President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to Dr Clarence Mini describing him as an extraordinary leader who committed his life to democratising healthcare and fighting for the rights of people living with HIV.

Mini, who was the chairperson of the Council for Medical Schemes, succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Monday after being hospitalised for over a month.

His memorial service is currently underway in Pretoria.

Those attending include former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla and a number of senior leaders in the healthcare sector.

President Ramaphosa’s message was read by Tshepo Moto of the University of Pretoria.

“His untimely departure is made more poignant by the fact that he succumbed to the greatest threat in living memory to public health around the world as a time when medical schemes are integral to our efforts to secure equitable access to care for unprecedented numbers of affected persons.”

“We will treasure his lifelong commitment for a better life for South Africans and his most recent legacy of leading the council for medical schemes as we prepare to transform our country through the National Health Insurance.”

The Council for Medical Schemes says its chairperson Dr Mini advocated that COVID-19 be included as one of the Prescribed Minimum Benefits or PMBs just before his death from the very same disease.

PMBs are basically a list of illnesses that should be covered by medical aid schemes regardless of the benefit option members selected.

He has been remembered as someone who worked hard to deal with fraud, waste and abuse.

An emotional Chief Executive at the council, Doctor Sipho Kabane, says Dr Mini was someone who fought for justice for the vulnerable.

“One of the last actions in terms of the regulations that Dr Mini performed was actually to sign off on a submission that went to the Minister of Health which sought to advise the minister to declare COVID-19 a prescribed minimum benefit and this was before he was infected himself. The regulation has now been passed, so that’s part of the legacy.”