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Ramaphosa ready to sign NHI Bill

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that he will be signing the highly-criticised National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

He joked that the bill is on his desk: “I just need a pen to sign it for implementation.”

This is against the advice of business organisations and other critics calling for the president to return the bill to Parliament to fix procedural and constitutional flaws.

The bill is intended to provide free health care at the point of care for all South Africans, whether in public or private facilities.

“We plan to incrementally implement the NHI, dealing with issues like health system financing, health workforce, medical products, vaccines and technologies and health information systems,” Ramaphosa said.

He was delivering his 2024 State of the Nation Address, focusing on the gains in the last 30 years since the dawn of democracy.

In the healthcare sector, Ramaphosa said over the years they have built more hospitals and clinics, especially in poor areas.

“Ninety-five percent of persons diagnosed with HIV know their status, while 79% of those receive antiretroviral treatment and 93% of those are virally suppressed. New HIV infections among young people have declined significantly,” he said.

Turning his attention to education, the president said in the next five years, the government will focus its attention on expanding access to early childhood development and on improving reading ability for learners in the early grades.

“Moving early childhood development to the Department of Basic Education was one of the important decisions.

“We are now able to devote more resources and ensure that through cooperative governance, various departments will get involved in early childhood development,” he said.

Ramaphosa said over nine million learners from poor backgrounds receive nutritional meals in schools across the country.

“Social assistance has increased school enrolment and attendance, lower[ed] drop-out rates and improved the pass rate.

“We have increased funding for poor and working-class students in universities and TVET colleges significantly over the past five years,” he said.

Pictured above: The NHI bill is intended to provide free health care for all South Africans.

Image source: Facebook