The adoption of the NHI Bill by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is hailed as a historic and crucial milestone, according to Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. According to SANews, the NCOP passed the NHI Bill in Parliament with support from all provinces except the Western Cape. Minister Phaahla expressed satisfaction with the progress, acknowledging that additional processes must be completed before the Bill becomes law. He highlighted the significance of reaching Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to provide all South Africans access to quality and affordable healthcare.
Minister Phaahla believes the provisions outlined in the NHI Bill represent a comprehensive and transformative approach to healthcare delivery in South Africa. He emphasised that every South African, regardless of socio-economic status, should have access to comprehensive health services without financial barriers. Despite positive strides, the journey towards adopting the NHI Bill has faced challenges, including economic considerations, workforce capacity, and the integration of healthcare systems.
The Ministry of Health remains committed to addressing these challenges through strategic planning, collaboration with stakeholders, and ongoing evaluation of implementation processes. Minister Phaahla highlighted the role of proactive stakeholder engagement in implementing this critical policy and legislative reform. Looking ahead, he mentioned that the Bill will be forwarded to the President for consideration and promulgation, paving the way for establishing key institutional and organisational structures, such as the NHI Fund.
Minister Phaahla clarified that the phased approach to implementation includes the development of detailed regulations, directives, and operational procedures. He stressed the importance of public input, transparency, and inclusivity in shaping the governance of the NHI Fund. The department will prepare regulations for public comment, ensuring a rational, structured, and phased approach to implementation. The NHI Act’s transformative impact will require careful consideration of transitional arrangements, and the President is empowered to set different dates for the effectiveness of various provisions within the Act.
In preparation for the NHI rollout, the government has undertaken initiatives such as the Ideal Clinic programme, which is focused on improving the quality of care in primary healthcare facilities. Initially tabled in Parliament in August 2019, the NHI Bill passed through various stages before being adopted by the NCOP. The Ministry of Health anticipates continued collaboration with stakeholders to achieve a healthcare system that is fair, efficient, and accessible to all South Africans.
Picture: X / UNAIDS_ZAF
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