NHI won’t solve challenges in public healthcare: DA

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Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube says the NHI Act will not solve the systemic challenges in the public healthcare system in the country.

She was reacting to signing into law of the NHI Bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings earlier today.

The move has received mixed reactions from different sectors with the official opposition announcing its decision to legally challenge it.

Gwarube says the collapse of the public healthcare system can be blamed on government.

Speaking at the Union Buildings after the signing ceremony, Gwarube says this will not change.

“It is wrong that there are people who are not getting good, quality healthcare when they go to Baragwanath Hospital. It is wrong that babies are dying at Tembisa Hospital but that omission has been the fault of government. Yes, a two-tier system is not one that we want, however, what we are saying is that if you are going to fix the healthcare system, you are going to first have to talk about how do you invest in Tembisa Hospital so that you can make sure that the infrastructure problems there are resolved, that you can make sure that you’ve got doctors that are employed. There are glaring systemic problems in the healthcare system in South Africa that are not being dealt with. They’re not going to go away.”

Elaborating on the court challenge, Gwarube says, “What we are doing, we are currently now putting together our papers, our lawyers have been briefed and of course we knew that despite the inputs that were made by academics, by industry experts, by business, by academics by political parties, we knew that the ANC would ram this Bill through Parliament, as has become customary. It is now up to us to effectively approach the courts to say this Bill will in effect be the one thing that will stop people from being able to access quality healthcare.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Joe Paahla says government is ready to present its case in the NHI Bill in court.

Paahla was addressing the media at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

A number of organisations including the DA and trade union Solidarity have threatened to take the legislation to court on various grounds including a lack of proper consultation and a conviction that it is unaffordable and unsustainable.

“If you look at some of the constituencies of some of these organisations, you will find that they benefitted not only in terms of the lack of radical transformation in the sector since democracy but they benefitted even from the previous dispensation and they have had the comfort of benefitting even more in the course of democracy, building even more assets. So, anything that threatens that comfort is going to be a challenge to some of those organisations.”

Paahla says government is fully aware that many people are unhappy with the Bill.

“This is a real radical departure and therefore when you want to move from a comfort zone. There will be a lot of people who will be unhappy just from the comfort zone, people are used to you know a certain way of things but also there are also vested interests.”