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Mediclinic News : HEALTH ‘MUST STAY FREE’

Title

HEALTH ‘MUST STAY FREE’

Date

2019-03-06

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CITIZEN Error: Dept. ‘mistakenly’ tells provinces noncitizens ‘must pay’ Migrants do not constitute a significant burden on health resources – report The Gauteng department of health issued a circular, backed by the national department, last week that instructed the reclassification of all non South African citizens to "full paying patients". But when Health-e News contacted Dr Anban Pillay, deputy director general for National Health Insurance at the national department, he said senior officials, including Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, first caught wind of this communication, dated January 15, last weekend. Pillay said the error had been traced to national department official Ursula le Roux, director of revenue management, who is responsible for sending out communications to provinces regarding the uniform patient fee schedule on an annual basis. According to Pillay, Le Roux issued the communique "without the authority" necessary for such a substantial change for health policy and "misunderstood talks between government departments". She then created the document because "she thought it was a good thing to do", but "it was her own interpretation and does not reflect any official version". The Gauteng directive, dated February 20, instructed that noncitizens must now "pay for all healthcare services including emergency treatment, confinement maternity and basic health services etc... The cost of services rendered must be paid up front". "This circular is hugely worrying because it is in contravention of both the constitution and the National Health Act, and even in contravention of the Gauteng department's own existing policy," said Jo Vearey from the African centre for Migration & Society at Wits. One of the most concerning aspects in the circular was the reference to "basic services", which includes the provision of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment, she said. "If access to HIV and TB care is explicitly being removed, it would constitute a public health disaster and goes beyond simply the right to health which remains paramount but has serious implications for controlling HIV across the whole region," she said. A Lancet Commission report published in December notes the need to prioritise migrant health in any discussion relating to universal health coverage. Research has shown that migrants do not constitute a significant burden on health resource and that denying these groups ac cess to services undermines population wide health, it said. Professor Steve Tollman, from Wits, who served as one of the 20 commissioners for the Lancet report noted: "Clearly, we want to take care of our citizens but clearly, we want to take care of others who cared for us pre ‘90s. Resources are finite but the answer is simply not to reject those who are not 'us'. Universal health coverage does not mean 'but not I you're not one of us'." Despite being a mistake, man: are worried about the implications of this messaging in term of the treatment experienced be noncitizens in health facilities. Pillay said Le Roux would be undergoing "a formal process" to "manage" the internal system so that "she doesn't make this kind of error again". Pillay said the Gauteng department had been given an urgent instruction to retract the circular.
Created at 2019/03/11 09:29 AM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2019/03/11 09:29 AM by Mediclinic