NHI is a dangerously ill-considered proposition

Alex Tabisher writes that as noble as it appears, it is fiscal suicide. File picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) archives

Alex Tabisher writes that as noble as it appears, it is fiscal suicide. File picture: Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) archives

Published Dec 17, 2023


There was no column last week because I had undergone some surgical procedures related to my 7-year-long affair with prostate cancer.

This hiatus could as easily have evoked a sigh of relief from some readers, as well as a despairingly few calls from loyal readers asking for their “Wednesday fix”. Whichever the case, we can safely assume that “Lulu’s back in town.”

The procedure included the implanting of nuclear (radiation-emitting) material up my royal hoosegow. The ten days of mandatory semi-isolation from family, pets, pregnant women and the folk who populate my world is extremely trying. After this coming Wednesday, I should be fit again for social intercourse.

The semi-isolation replicated that which we practised during the Covid19 period. But I had a few laughs when pals phoned in and called me “bionic man”, “old glow-in-the-dark Power Ranger” and other such humorous if irreverent epithets which kept my spirits up.

One pal phoned me and greeted me with “Hey, Hiroshima, how are the crown jewels behaving?” Hilarious. Or not, depending on where your head is at the time. Nevertheless, I end this part of my narrative with Mark Twain’s famously indignant disclaimer: “The rumour of my demise has been greatly exaggerated.”

I filled my idle recovery hours with an indecent gorge of reading. What a joy to have the freedom from the reality of living in these times to indulge an underrated pleasure. Reading for fun. I thank my daughter, Jeanine, for supplying me with a mountain of really good reading which made the days of forced idleness bearable.

I shall not beat any drums, but semi-isolation in one’s home with one’s loved ones is not a condition to be enjoyed, let alone desired. I shall write more about the prostate treatment (I did so a few years ago) and exhort my brothers out there to monitor the health of that crucial, if underrated, nut that makes you the man you are.

Which made me aware of the folly of the projected National health pie-inthe-sky drivel currently being touted by our favourite cousins, the ANC. As noble as it appears, it is fiscal suicide.

My procedure, which lasted for one hour, and involved a urologist and an oncologist, plus the horde of other lesser yet essential team players, racked up a bill consisting of six figures. Serious moolah, my dear reader. And on that Sunday, there were 10 of us lined up for the procedure, called the Brachy treatment.

I had no choice in whether the treatment could or should be done. All I wrestle with is the terrible reality, had I not had the magnificent fiscal strength of my medical aid in place, I would have been consigned to God knows what.

I have had some sobering thoughts about the vast chasm between those who can and those who can’t be treated in the best available way. The gulf is as tragic as it is unbridgeable.

I retain a large dollop of humility and gratitude that I was fortunate enough to access funds for the procedure. Typically, our rulers say, and with a lot of humane conviction, that everybody should have access to the best medical and palliative care.

But the question arises: who is going to bell the cat? Just like with our failed efforts at funding huge sports events, or relaunch failed SOEs, or even finance a basic like free education, we seem to lack the fiscal clout that such a massive undertaking demands.

There is no sanctimony in my question. I am suitably grateful and humbled by my reasonably good position. And my heart bleeds for those who will never even access what is a basic human right.

But like the fatuous elections, and the other pipedreams that the masters of ineptitude posit, a national health roll-out is a dangerously poorly thought-through proposition. Even the Prez, who touts a seven-figure salary, will not be able to lift this chestnut from the flames.

* Alex Tabisher.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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