Home Health Dr Joe Phaahla describes passage of National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill as “historic milestone”

Dr Joe Phaahla describes passage of National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill as “historic milestone”

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Minister Joe Phaahla says the Portfolio Committee on Health in the National Assembly has made significant progress to process the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill after their work was paused due to the COVID-19 crisis.

National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill

On Wednesday, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Parliament, with backing from all provinces except the Western Cape. Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has called this a historic and important milestone in South Africa’s journey towards realizing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and ensuring universal access to quality and affordable healthcare for all South Africans.

## Landmark moment for South Africa’s health system

The Ministry of Health expressed its satisfaction with the progress made so far, while acknowledging that there are still other processes to be followed before the Bill is signed into law. Minister Phaahla emphasized that the provision outlined in the NHI Bill represents a comprehensive and transformative approach to healthcare delivery in South Africa.

“It is founded on the principle that every South African, regardless of their socio-economic status, should have access to a comprehensive set of health services without facing any financial barriers,” the Minister stated.

Reflecting on the positive outcome of the NCOP vote, Phaahla acknowledged the significant strides made in advancing the necessary policy and legislative frameworks to support the implementation of NHI. He stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration with stakeholders to address challenges, such as financial considerations and workforce capacity, as the country moves forward with the phased-approach implementation of NHI.

## Ongoing stakeholder engagement and strategic planning

Phaahla underscored the government’s commitment to addressing these challenges through strategic planning, collaboration with stakeholders, and ongoing evaluation of the implementation processes. He also emphasized the role of proactive stakeholder engagement in implementing such an important policy and legislative reform.

The Ministry has developed and adopted a comprehensive approach to stakeholder engagement to ensure diverse perspectives are considered as the country forges ahead with implementing NHI. Phaahla highlighted the next key steps, which include forwarding the Bill to the President for consideration and promulgation. Once it receives Presidential assent, the Bill will become an Act of Parliament, creating a statutory mandate for the Minister and the National Department of Health.

## Preparations for the NHI rollout and Ideal Clinic programme

As part of preparations for the rollout of the NHI, the government has undertaken the Ideal Clinic programme, among other initiatives. The Ideal Clinic programme aims to improve the quality of care provided in Primary Health Care facilities by ensuring good infrastructure, adequate staff, medicine and supplies, efficient administrative processes, and integrated clinical services management.

According to the Health Department’s 2021/2022 Annual Report, there are 1 928 (55%) primary health care facilities that have attained ideal status. These efforts complement the phased-approach implementation of NHI, as the government focuses on addressing challenges and improving the quality of healthcare services in South Africa.

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