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Ramaphosa signs ‘Rolls-Royce’ health bill into law

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI) into law on Wednesday, paving the way for the eventual implementation of universal health coverage.

The bill is the first step in the transformation of South Africa’s health care system. It is designed to achieve universal coverage for health services and overcome critical socio-economic imbalances and inequities.

Ramaphosa said: “We as a country made a global commitment that we are going to have universal health care.

“Those who are trying to hold us back to a fragmented system are out of line with the global vision that ... we are part of.

“We are not mad or outliers; we are in line with what is happening in the global community.”

The president said the real challenge with implementing the NHI lies not in the lack of funds but in the misallocation of resources, which currently favours the private health sector at the expense of public health needs.

“The bill presents an innovative approach to funding universal health care based on social solidarity that combines various financial resources and additional funding and reallocation of funds already in the system.

“The financial hurdles facing the NHI can be navigated with careful planning, strategic resource allocation and a steadfast commitment to achieving equity.

“We cannot continue to live in a country where a portion of the population lives under an unequal system while the other lives under the privileged system.

“We are trying to build the Rolls-Royce of the health care system for all South Africans,” he said.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the bill will be implemented in phases and is expected to be fully implemented by 2030.

The first phase will last until 2026 and involves establishing the institution and accelerating the health platforms. The second phase will be between 2026 and 2028 and involves the actual implementation of programmes and contracting of services.

Phaahla urged South Africans to be patient and wait for announcements about when they can start accessing the benefits of the NHI

“We are still establishing the institution, system and structures the public will be involved in through public participation,” he said.

Pictured above: President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Image source: Doreen Mokgolo