On Tuesday, April 17th, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, spoke at UCT’s medical campus. He discussed the challenges facing the South African health care system and the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) plan.
Speaking to VARSITY before the talk, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said, “It’s very important for people to understand what the NHI scheme is.” The Minister then spoke for about an hour, addressing the problems with the current system and how he hopes that these will change under the NHI.
Motsoaledi apologised for the unfortunate way the NHI was introduced to the public through leaked documents saying “everyone thought we were bringing some monster to this country.”
He emphasised the importance of adjusting the perception of health care, saying, “If you don’t subscribe to the fact that health is a public good, you will never agree with us.”
Motsoaledi went on to argue that the government is currently failing its people, as the Constitution states that “Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care.” Motsoaledi also admitted to the government’s failure to reach set targets. “The year 2000 came and went and we haven’t attained the highest level of health ... in the past 10 years, even in our country, health got worse.”
Motsoaledi highlighted the four main problem areas facing the health of South Africans: HIV/AIDS; tuberculosis; a pandemic in poor child and child-bearing women’s health; and non-communicable diseases, violence and injury.
The need for more doctors in the country was another issue raised by Mostoaledi, who stated that “we need to produce 3 600 new doctors.” He explained that the government had reached an agreement with the UK that they would not aggressively recruit doctors from South Africa, and this would hopefully go some way to alleviate the problem.
Mostoaledi emphasised that “one purpose of the NHI is to protect South Africans from catastrophic health care expenditure,” and gave examples of cases where people have been left ruined because of unexpected costs.
The Minister ended by warning students, saying: “If you believe health care is a private good, you are in the wrong profession.”
The Minister was generally well-received and many at the event agreed that his message was inspiring.
Sarvesh Balkaran, a 4th-year medical student, said, “It was refreshing and inspiring to hear the governmental side, especially when we hear so much about the NHI in the Media.”
To watch an exclusive interview with Dr Motsoaledi, tune into the latest episode of YouSeeTV, available online.
View on Varsity site: http://varsitynewspaper.co.za/news/1010-minister-of-health-inspires-uct-medics