Viable NHI pilot results soon: Motsoaledi

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Parliament, Cape Town - Visible results will be seen at ten of the 11 national health insurance (NHI) pilot sites by April, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.

Briefing parliament's appropriations standing committee, Motsoaledi said he had encounted a myriad of problems in trying to get the project off the ground.

He had needed to consult private practitioners, ward councillors, mayors, traditional leaders, and religious leaders to get buy in, before the pilot projects could start.

These meetings were meant to take eight weeks, but due to a range of problems it took nine months.

“Some of them (meetings) had to be postponed, others were not well organised... so it went to and fro,” Motsoaledi said.

The biggest problem was in the OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape.

“I was supposed to address 107 GPs (general practitioners), but when I arrived there were only 15... they were supposed to have been organised by the provincial department but this did not happen.”

He had also arrived in the Eastern Cape to address mayors, ward councillors, and traditional leaders, only to find they were not told about the meeting.

Motsoaledi said he would now have to start consultations from scratch, meaning the Eastern Cape would be the only province not ready for NHI pilot projects by the April deadline.

“In the other remaining 10 districts, in about 533 clinics, there will be these doctors from private practice.”

Equipment and mobile clinics were being bought to enable doctors to do their work.

“In the next six weeks, I'll go the pilots which I think are ready and bring these doctors together, bring the specialist teams together, bring these school health teams together, and instruct them that from the first of April this is what we'll be doing, this is the equipment we'll be having, this is the space you'll be using.”

Mobile units were required because some clinics did not have the space to accomodate private doctors involved in the pilot projects.

Over R1 billion had been allocated to the pilot sites over the next few years.

Only R150 million rand was made available for the first year.

This meant that each pilot site would only be allocated around R11 million.

“Don't ever believe we can do miracles with R11 million, it can't be,” he said.

Motsoaledi asked MPs not to visit sites until after April, as they would find “nothing” happening at the clinics which formed part of the pilot.

He would take full responsibility for the delays.

“If anything goes wrong, I'm asking that if anybody must be hanged, let it be me, not the officials because they've done nothing wrong. It's me who's controlling the process.

The pilot projects are part of the first phase of the NHI.

It includes strengthening health systems, improving service delivery, and policy and legislative reform. - Sapa


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