Health committee kicks off NHI hearings in KZN
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PORT ELIZABETH – The Portfolio Committee on Health on Friday started the KwaZulu-Natal leg of its public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Jozini.
The public hearings, which started in the afternoon, saw a packed Makhonyeni Hall which included members of the public, traditional healers and healthcare workers.
The NHI is the financing system that will ensure all South African citizens and legal long-term residents are provided with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund.
Committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the meeting that the right to healthcare and the right to life superseded all other rights.
He said the committee was there to listen to all concerns and suggestions and would consider them during deliberations on the Bill.
Most participants were in favour of the proposed Bill because it would lead to the improvement of healthcare for the poor and would provide better infrastructure, especially in deep rural areas.
Concerns and questions that were raised include the lack of clinics in some areas of this municipal district, the quality of ambulance services that needed to be addressed urgently and the role that traditional healers would play in the proposed system.
Some recommendations were that proper facilities, rather than community halls and child care centres should be used to address providing quality healthcare especially for the poorest communities.
The need for medical professionals to improve their services to the public was also raised. Assistance for the disabled and those living with Albinism also featured at the hearings.
Residents also raised concerns about the urgent need for the NHI, suggesting that it should be introduced immediately.
Dhlomo said the committee would continue with its programme in KwaZulu-Natal until Monday before moving to the Eastern Cape next week Friday.