S Africa health care requires overhaul: Minister

Published: November 15, 2018 15:30:01 | Updated: November 30, 2018 18:52:35

South Africa Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo

An overhaul of South Africa's health care system is needed to ensure quality health access to both the poor and rich, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Wednesday.

Despite billions of rands being spent on the country's health care system annually, gross inequalities in health care still remain, Motsoaledi said, addressing a nursing conference in Johannesburg.

"The time has arrived to change the system. In order to change this, we need to massively re-organise the current health system. The question is, can we change the health care system of the country in terms of quality, access and efficiency?" he asked.

He said that the World Health Organization (WHO) advised countries to spend 5 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care system in a bid to improve health outcomes. South Africa currently spends 8.7 per cent of its GDP on health care and yet this has not yielded any positive outcomes.

The minister said that billions the government was using to subsidise the private health care system should be invested in the public health care. He said that the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) is the only solution to tackle health problems.

South Africa is set to roll out a universal health care coverage known as the NHI aimed at ensuring quality health care access to everyone regardless of their socio-economic status.

"We can only change this via NHI. For the past 51 years, the system has not benefited all South Africans. This system is called medical aid. With NHI everybody has a stake, we need to start controlling the prices of private health care. Let there be equality in health care," Motsoaledi said.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) convened the conference to look at the conditions within which nurses work under and the role nurses will play in the roll-out of the NHI.

The trade union called on the health department to deal with the chronic shortage of nurses in the country, Xinhua reported.

NEHAWU President Mzwanele Makwayiba said: "Shortage of staff is very bad. Education of nurses is vital. We are not producing enough nurses."

Responding to the problem, Motsoaledi said that 2,000 health care workers will be hired to tackle shortages.

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