Ramaphosa: SA flouting own constitution through healthcare divide

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo by REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo by REUTERS/Rogan Ward

by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa believes the National Health Insurance (NHI) will address the serious disparities in the provision of healthcare in South Africa.

According to the president, South Africa has two parallel health care systems with around R250 billion (US$16,487 billion) spent annually on less than 20 percent of the country’s population of 57 million.

He said this was the section of our population that had access to private medical insurance.

On the other hand, Ramaphosa said, the country spent R220 billion on the rest of the population.

“It is one of the greatest travesties of our time that access to decent and quality health care services is determined by one’s ability to pay,” he said.

The president said this flew in the face of the constitutional right of access to health care for all citizens regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

“It is a situation that cannot continue. It is inefficient and unsustainable. It is unfair and unjust,” he said.

Ramaphosa thus believes the introduction of National Health Insurance will be among the most far-reaching acts of social transformation this country has experienced since democracy in 1994.

“We have enough resources in this country to enable every man, woman and child to receive appropriate standardised quality health care.”

Ramaphosa’s sentiment, carried in his weekly letter, came as deliberations by Parliament on the NHI Bill were soon to enter a new phase as the Portfolio Committee on Health’s country-wide public hearings wrap up.

He said these hearings, held in a number of places around the country, had shown broad support for fundamental change in the health care system.

The segregation of health services is reminiscent of South Africa’s past.

“Back in the 18th Century it was on the basis of colonial settler status. Under apartheid it was on the basis of skin colour. Today it is on the basis of who can afford to pay,” Ramaphosa lamented.

– CAJ News

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