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Johannesburg - South Africa's National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has been overwhelmingly welcomed in Limpopo province during public hearings in the Vhembe, Mopani, Sekhukhune and Capricorn districts, parliament's portfolio committee on health has said.

In a statement, the committee said residents who attended the hearings expressed hope that the NHI would remove the existing gap between the rich and poor in terms of access to health services.

The government tabled the NHI Bill in parliament in August, saying it wanted to ensure affordable quality healthcare to all South Africans, but critics say it will collapse the sector. 

Parliament's health committee said attendants at the hearings urged it to ensure that the management of the NHI Fund, which is envisaged to be in place by 2026, was tightened to prevent corruption and to make it inaccessible to foreign nationals without proper documentation.

"The committee told the residents that it will consider all the submissions on the Bill after the process of public hearings has been concluded in all the nine provinces," chairman Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said.

Limpopo was the third province where the committee conducted public hearings on the bill after Mpumalanga and Northern Cape. The next hearings are set for KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape before the end of the year.

African News Agency (ANA)