Public servants urged to educate public about NHI

Public servants in the health sector have been challenged to use Public Service Month to educate the public about the impact of the National Health Insurance (NHI) currently being piloted across the country.

As the country works towards the full implementation of the National Health Insurance, it is important that every citizen of our country is educated and equipped with what the NHI means in terms of accessing medical assistance, Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Chana Pilane-Majake said on Friday.

Pilane-Majake is leading a public servants health symposium in Mgungundlovu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, as the country marks Public Service Month.

The NHI is a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality affordable personal health services and to ensure universal health coverage for all South Africans based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

The initiative is being implemented in phases over a 14-year period, which started in 2012. It will be established through the creation of a single fund that will buy services on behalf of the entire population through a combination of various mandatory prepayment sources, primarily based on general taxes.

However, the insurance has been met with criticism mainly from beneficiaries of some private health care systems that benefit the rich.

Pilane-Majake said service delivery from the health perspective currently focuses on the NHI, which promotes quality universal health for all citizens of South Africa � both rich and poor.

Currently, private healthcare is only available to eight million of the 59 million South Africans, meaning that private healthcare caters for 16% of the population.

Pilane-Majake said this imbalance in access to healthcare puts a strain on the public health system and requires that the limited healthcare resources be shared equally amongst South Africans.

The Deputy Minister went on to detail some of the benefits of the NHI such as addressing the problems of sustainability and quality in the interests of all South African healthcare consumers; and the promotion of equality, as the NHI will provide healthcare to everyone, whether they are employed or unemployed, and will be free at the point of service.

Other benefits include improved social security and stimulation of the economy for inclusive growth.

Pilane-Majake said once universal health coverage is entrenched, health-related barriers to education and productivity will be greatly reduced and allow more South Africans to become economically active.

Activities are planned throughout September for Public Service Month to promote the principles of Batho Pele (people first).

This year's theme is 'Thuma Mina: Taking Public Service to the People: Batho Pele: We Belong, We Care, We Serve'.

Cabinet hopes to use the month to reignite, recommit and rededicate public servants to the principles of Batho Pele; improve the morale and inculcate a sense of pride in being a public servant.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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