Financial services company, KHUSA Consulting, has called for the release of billions of rands from medical aid schemes’ emergency reserves – to help treat people infected with COVID-19 across South Africa.

The firm says that, by law, medical aid schemes have emergency fund reserves of at least 25 per cent of members’ contributions.

KHUSA Consulting’s Executive Director, Adrian Parsons, says they are calling for the more than R60 billion held in medical aid reserve funds – to be released to help treat COVID-19 patients in both the public and private sectors.

“What we are asking medical aids to do is take some of the R60 billion that they have in reserves and set it aside in order to help fight COVID-19.“

“These reserves were created specifically for this reason – pandemics. We think that some of the funds should be used in the public infrastructure where it is going to be most needed. I think that is the primary difference of saying let’s keep it for the medical scheme members exclusively – we are saying some of it needs to be used in the public sector,” explains Parsons.

Meanwhile, the Labour Court in Johannesburg is expected to hear an urgent application by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) against the Department of Health, on Tuesday, regarding protective equipment for workers at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic 

The trade union is demanding that health workers be provided with personal protective equipment while treating patients.  

In the audio below, Nehawu to approach Labour Court on Tuesday: 

In its court papers, Nehawu says government doesn’t care about the safety of health workers. The union says the Health Department failed to ensure that all doctors and nurses are provided with protective gear. It wants the Labour Court to ensure that steps are taken to mitigate the risk of infection.  

The trade union also wants the court to rule that employees shouldn’t be compelled to render their services if they’re not provided with protective gear and that they should not be threatened or subjected to disciplinary measures for refusing to do so.