Government says if the National Health Insurance (NHI) had been implemented earlier, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could have been managed in a much better and effective way.

The primary objective of the NHI would be to provide universal access to health care to all South Africans on an equal footing, irrespective of their ability to pay for services.

Answering oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the pandemic had exposed the challenges and viabilities of the current health system.

“What is required in terms of long term readiness, is the pulling of all health resources, human resources, infrastructure, rather than what we have done during this period, where we had to go out and recruit volunteers of health professionals including community health workers and also looking at entering in agreement with private health providers including private hospitals and private laboratories. But once we can put all these resources together and create one health national service under the NHI, pandemics such as COVID-19 would be managed with a lot of certainty.”

Discussion on NHI:

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of detected COVID-19 cases in South Africa has risen to 732 414 with 1 866 new cases identified in the past 24 hours.  The Department of Health has also reported 92 more COVID-19 related deaths.

“Twenty-seven from Eastern Cape; seven from Gauteng; 17 from the Free State; four from KwaZulu Natal; one from Mpumalanga; 23 from North West; eight from Northern Cape; and five from Western Cape,” says the department in a statement.

This brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 19 677.