‘Leaders who came after Mandela failed to continue his legacy’

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The former prime minister of Norway who is also the former director-general in the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gro Brundtland, says leaders who came after former President Nelson Mandela failed to continue his legacy of providing universal health care.

Brundtland was speaking at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg

She says Mandela was a champion for universal health coverage which started with free healthcare for pregnant women and children. Brundtland says they’ve allowed the costly and ineffective health systems to perpetuate apartheid in the new South Africa. She says the NHI should have long been implemented in the country.

“You have had a divided system of a poor public system and the more secure paid for health system. It’s not perfect, we all know that. I’ve been shocked to hear that as you get beyond winter this private health insurance companies no longer cover you although people have paid for the whole year. This to me was unbelievable. Is that possible? Is that legal?  It just illustrates that you need reform and there is no need for panic,” says Brundtland.

Brundtland says South Africa will have to take a firm stand against corruption for the National Health Insurance (NHI) to be a success. She says government has to have transparent plans and improve its health spending.

“Furthermore SA will have to improve the efficiency of healthcare spending, strengthen procurement systems and tackle corruption throughout the health sector. It is crucial to support these reforms by building stronger accountability mechanisms involving parliamentarians, the media, civil society organisations,” says Brundtland.