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Government has spent over R26 billion on NHI in last decade

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the National Health Insurance will be implemented over phases. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the National Health Insurance will be implemented over phases. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 7, 2023


Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has confirmed that they have spent more than R26 billion on the National Health Insurance, and this includes the pilot phase in several districts in the last 10 years.

The government started with pilot sites in 10 districts across the country.

Phaahla said they were using a number of grants from  government to pump into the NHI projects from 2013, when they started the rollout of the NHI pilot projects.

He insisted in Parliament that NHI would ensure equal access to healthcare services for all South Africans.

He said the majority of people still did not have access to quality healthcare.

The government has said it will forge ahead with the NHI despite objections from some of the political parties that have threatened to take the State to court.

Phaahla said while they have spent R26bn from 2013, the R10bn was an allocation from National Treasury to deal with Covid-19.

The Department of Health was forced to hire more staff to deal with the outbreak of the virus.

Phaahla told members of Parliament during question time that it was difficult to project how much would be needed for NHI in the next few years.

But he said the money used in the past 10 years was R26 billion.

"The total amount spent on NHI was effected through a number of grants, the direct and indirect grant. This includes expenditure in various pilot districts and the contracting of various professionals," said Phaahla.

He added that the funding was for quality standards to meet NHI standards.

"The total NHI direct and indirect expenditure in the 10 years from the 2013/14 financial year when it started amounts to R26 billion. As I will explain later on, R10 billion of this was allocated during Covid because there was no other mechanism the R10 billion (could be allocated) to hire more staff to deal with Covid and this was also channelled through the direct grant. Otherwise, a new grant would have needed to be developed. There was an agreement with the National Treasury.

"The honourable member wants to know what the amount to be used in the next 10 years is. It is not possible to completely be able to predict because there are many variables when you look at the 10-year projection, which includes, once the fund is established, the initial benefit basket of services and the prices that will be agreed with the service providers," said Phaahla.

Phaahla said he would not say all state facilities were meeting NHI standards. The Office of Health Standards and Compliance provides regular updates to the department on the state of healthcare centres.

He said the investments they have made in NHI pilot projects, where they have upgraded facilities, brought in equipment, and contracted specialists.

The minister said in some instances, there were areas where there were no oncologists, but they were now available.