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The ‘reorganisation’ of the national Health Department, an ’embryo’ unit to build capacity, and the ‘backbone’ of a national electronic patient record system that will contain the health details of all citizens by February 2020. These are the first details of the shape of the National Health Insurance scheme, outlined by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in his budget vote speech, reports Legalbrief Policy Watch. Conceding that “it will be impossible to convince the public about the virtues of NHI unless the health infrastructure is rebuilt as a matter of urgent priority”, the minister said a “team of experts in finance and health … infrastructure” has been established “to seek creative financing mechanisms” and “alternative” delivery models. While the yet-to-be-tabled National Health Insurance Bill is being processed in Parliament, “the structure of the national Heallth Department will be reorganised” and a dedicated NHI implementation unit established. Pam Saxby writes in a report on the Legalbrief Policy Watch site that the official version of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s budget vote speech describes the unit as an “embryo” NHI fund and staff capacity-building platform. Unfortunately, she writes, the speech was only published on the department’s website well after close of business on Monday, which may explain why the mainstream media overlooked so much valuable information provided by the Minister on government plans for preparing public health facilities to implement the long-awaited system. Saxby writes that as has been widely reported, Mkhize provided no information on the primary source of revenue for NHI. However, he did refer to a “social compact” on building a health system fit for its implementation. It was one of the outcomes of last October’s presidential health summit. Mkhize also confirmed that, as the “backbone” of a national electronic health patient record system, a registration system has been developed on which the details of “all South Africans” are expected to have been captured by the end of the 2019/20 financial year. According to the Minister, nearly 43m users have already been registered. With the aim of improving management and governance, within the “next six months” the organograms of all state-run health facilities are expected to have been reviewed and the system of delegating responsibility “adjusted to ensure appropriate levels of authority for effective decision making”. In addition, EU funding and bilateral agreements with Japan, the UK and France will be used to “build the capacity of managers to implement NHI”. Saxby writes that according to Mkhize, the team’s “clear directive” is to “accelerate the refurbishment of all old hospitals and clinics and deliver new ones within five-to-seven years”. While a “significant amount’ has been budgeted for this, in the Minister’s view it is ‘grossly inadequate”. Nevertheless, the “entire” infrastructure build programme has been costed – informed by an audit of all public health facilities. “Preliminary indications are that (it) is feasible,” Saxby quotes the Minister as saying.
Created at 2019/07/24 12:37 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2019/07/24 12:37 PM by Mediclinic