The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 13 June 2023 and was referred to the National Council of Provinces’ Select Committee on Health and Social Services for consideration, which also involved provincial public hearings.
As the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA), we wish to express our support for the goal of achieving universal healthcare in Southern Africa and to offer our insights as advocates for the improvement of healthcare systems in the region. We firmly believe in the power of strategic collaborations and results-driven initiatives to transform healthcare access and quality for all citizens.
On 14 September 2023, the FIA made its submission on the Bill to the Select Committee on Health and Social Services on the NHI Bill. Following this submission, a number of FIA members presented at the various public provincial hearings. In the main our submission was received positively, specifically the constructive, solution driven approach.
Where we stand
Central to our belief is the conviction that health is a catalyst for economic growth. We are committed to fostering prosperity through equitable access to healthcare services, recognising that a healthy population contributes to increased productivity, reduced long-term healthcare costs, and the full engagement of all South Africans in the workforce, ultimately driving comprehensive economic development.
Our collective commitment revolves around the principle that the healthcare system must be accountable to the communities it serves. We advocate for a complex yet responsive network of medical institutions, professionals, and resources, aimed at delivering holistic medical services and promoting public health throughout our society.
We furthermore continue to work with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to ensure that we can achieve the best outcome for all South Africans. Representatives from our secretariat and Healthcare Exco currently represent the FIA at the BUSA HealthPol working group.
We are enthusiastic supporters of ward-based primary healthcare (WBPHC), seeing it as a powerful mechanism to improve individuals’ health at the municipal ward level and contribute positively to job creation. Our advocacy is grounded in the belief that innovative approaches are essential for achieving sustainable growth and inclusivity.
Moreover, we believe that a healthcare system should provide meaningful choices within the public sector. We envision an accessible, inclusive, and adaptable system that caters to the diverse need and preferences of the population, in alignment with our dedication to leveraging collective resources for better outcomes and the overall well-being of all South Africans.
The way forward
In line with our vision, we are excited by the prospect of incentivising employers to promote a healthy workforce. This reflects our commitment to fostering positive working environments, enhancing employee morale and loyalty, and driving increased company performance and economic growth.
As we address the barriers to achieving universal healthcare, we fully recognise that these challenges require a collective effort. Transitioning to a more equitable healthcare system demands not only sound policy decisions but also a shared commitment to overcoming societal attitudes and cultural beliefs that might hinder progress.
We also value the emphasis on the implementation of previously adopted policies and the acknowledgement that improved healthcare hinges on various drivers. These include universal access, quality of care, health information technology, preventive care, a well-supported health workforce, government commitment, and fruitful public-private collaboration. We are well aware that an integrated and coordinated approach is crucial for achieving these ambitious goals.
Efficiency is another key focus for us. We share the belief that compliance with health standards, both in public and private health establishments, is pivotal for delivering high-quality care while minimising legal actions and complaints. Recognising private medical schemes as national assets, we acknowledge their potential to drive healthcare innovation, reflecting our dedication to fostering advancements for the broader healthcare sector.
While we may differ in our stance on the approach, we appreciate the notion of introducing a minimum benefit package and mandatory membership, both of which underscore our commitment to equity and inclusivity. Similarly, the concept of public-private partnerships and governance as drivers for transformative change resonates with our dedication to strategic alliances and responsible governance.
Given the potential for the current NHI Bill to face legal challenges, we are driven by a shared responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of all citizens. The risk of lengthy court battles cannot be underestimated, as they may inadvertently prolong the uncertainty and affect the timely implementation of essential healthcare reforms. Our proposal to amend the current proposed NHI Bill is not just a precautionary measure; it is a proactive step towards ensuring that the health of every individual remains a top priority. By addressing potential vulnerabilities now, we aspire to inspire a future where equitable access to quality healthcare prevails, unburdened by legal complexities. These amendments are solution focused, stemming from our unwavering commitment to constructive collaboration and forward-thinking solutions that prioritise the health and prosperity of our nation.
In conclusion, we champion the goal of achieving Universal Healthcare in Southern Africa. As passionate advocates for positive change, we stand ready to contribute our insights and expertise to support the successful implementation of this transformative initiative. Together, through determination, collaboration, and unwavering commitment, we can create a healthier, more prosperous, and more resilient nation.
We are keeping abreast of all the current dialogue with regard to the Bill, and will keep our readers informed as the matter progresses.