The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said on Monday it would picket against high and rising costs in the private health industry on October 18 as part of its campaign in support of the introduction of the National Health Insurance. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

JOHANNESBURG  -The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said on Monday it would picket against high and rising costs in the private health industry on October 18 as part of its campaign in support of the introduction of the National Health Insurance.

The government in August tabled the long-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which aims to contain the cost of comprehensive public health care by prioritising primary and preventative medical services.

Critics, including the main opposition Democratic Alliance, fear the proposed law in its current form will undermine the health system by giving the government too much overall control. Supporters say it will avail affordable quality healthcare, currently the preserve of the well-to-do, to all South Africans.

On Monday NEHAWU said it would picket at the Sandton, Johannesburg headoffices of Netcare, the largest provider of private healthcare in both South Africa and the United Kingdom.

"This protest picket is the first in the series of a range of other actions that are in the pipeline, which we shall mount with other organisations to ensure that the prevalent profiteering in the private health industry is stopped," the union said in a statement.

"To the extent the private provider industry shall continue to operate under the NHI, we are determined that there is appropriate intervention by the authorities to ensure that there is an end to the oligopoly in the providers’ market."

NEHAWU said it would also press for the appropriate regulation of healthcare charges to ensure value for money and affordability for all.

"We call on all South Africans to join the protest action to make a bold statement to the private healthcare sector that we are tired of being exploited for profits," it said.

- African News Agency (ANA)