Once again I am very encouraged by the pragmatic approach from our Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. His bold approach in addressing many issues that could be regarded as “Holy Cows” is most welcome.
Taking into account the Environment we find ourselves this is a very balanced Budget Speech from Pravin Gordhan. The Minister has navigated and thrown out a massive vision for the South African economy up to 2030 with addressing the biggest challenges we, as a country, face namely:
- Negative Economic outlook world vide. SA’s response
- South African citizens concerns around employment, health and corruption
- Investment in infrastructure part of job creation
- Small business development and growth as part of the employment solution
- Financial management and combating fraud and corruption with clear actions to be taken
- Some rather light details on the financing of the future NHI. But this is understandable with all the other issues around the 10 Point Health plan that requires urgent attention
Focusing now more directly on health the following items will be well received in the market place namely:-
- Allocation of an additional R12,3 billion with R1 billion earmarked for NHI pilot projects and primary healthcare visits. R450 million to upgrade 30 nursing colleges. A further R426 million to rebuild 5 major tertiary hospitals and then an additional R968 million for Anti-retroviral treatment at CD4 threshold of 350. This will go a long way to help those who require HIV/Aids medication to remain healthy.
- Re-emphasize that NHI will be phased in over a 14 year period beginning in 2012/13.
- Funding for the NHI under discussion. There are a number of options being explored and we should be seeing a discussion paper at the end of April 2012. Once again a consultative and pragmatic approach. This is to explore ways to meet the estimated R6 billion expected revenue required for N.H.I. during 2014/15.
- Monthly medical tax credits will be increased from R216 to R230 for the first two beneficiaries and from R144 to R154 for each additional dependant, with effect 1 March 2012. The medical tax credit system will apply to all taxpayers (not just those under the age of 65 with no disabilities) from 1 March 2014.
All the above has to been seen in the existing Policy framework and environment, and most importantly, the Health Departments’ 10 Point Plan. In addition we MUST also take the following comments made on a number of occasions by our Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
Dr Motsoaledi said that two matters need to be fixed before we can have an effective N.H.I. namely:-
- Revamping and improving of the State system: This he said was on many levels and the 6 Core Standards (see below) are just the first level requirements.
- Fixing the pricing of health services in the Private sector: He said prices will have to be better regulated as it is not affordable for many medical scheme members.
Dr Motsoaledi spoke on quality standards and the way forward at the Portfolio committee on Health a week ago, when he briefed the MP’s on the National Health Bill. He said the Department of Health has identified 6 core standards to focus on which the public can see and understand. There are others that are more complex.
The initial visible 6 Core Standards to be met are:-
- Cleanliness of facilities
- Safety and security of patients
- Caregiver attitudes to patient.
- Improved Infection control
- Removal of all Drug stock-outs
- Reduction in Long queues
Just by implementing the above 6 core standard will be a great way of improving health care for many of our people in South Africa.
Health is a social good and we should all join our Department of Health in a social compact to uplift health care for all. We all have a role to play. It is the right thing!