President Cyril Ramaphosa answers questions in the National Assembly. Picture: Supplied by GCIS.

Parliament - Government would not change its mind on rolling out the National Health Insurance (NHI), President Cyril Ramaphosa told MPs on Thursday.

Responding to questions in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa said despite widespread criticism of government's plan for universal healthcare coverage and threats of lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the NHI Bill, government believed its plan will bring an end to healthcare inequality.

"We are called upon to retain an unjust system that deprives the majority of South Africans of access to doctors, specialists...and to this have to say a unanimous no," the president asserted.

"This is unfair, it is inefficient, it is unsustainable. We have enough resources in this country to give every man, every woman, every child healthcare but we refuse because we want to promote the interests of a few to the detriment of the rest. We shall change this and we are irrevocably committed to do this."

Last week, billions of rand was wiped from the Johannesburg stock exchange when the NHI bill was introduced in Parliament for processing. The Democratic Alliance and other parties are threatening legal action to test the constitutionality of the bill. 

Ramaphosa said this was unfortunate and blamed it on people sending out alarmist messages on the NHI.

"I feel sorry for those who have lost money but losses on the stock exchange happen from time to time...we cannot say because of that we should now abandon the 84 percent of our people who need to gain and benefit from national healthcare."

African News Agency (ANA)