STATE OF THE NATION : All Public Hospitals to be Rehabilitated - 5 Year Plan

By Gabi Khumalo

Cape Town - In order to initiate the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, an urgent rehabilitation of public hospitals will be undertaken through Public-Private Partnerships.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma said the NHI would be introduced in a phased and incremental manner.

The NHI, which was presented to Cabinet in August last year and expected to be implemented in the next five years aims to deal with inequalities within the health system.

The development of a NHI system is aimed at improving the equity of health care financing and enhancing the quality of care for all South Africans.

It will also address the inequities between the public and private health sectors and how best to use all healthcare resources to serve the needs of the people equitably.

Currently, the Department of Health is preparing a discussion document on determining the cost alternatives for a basic benefits package that could be covered under the NHI.

On the remuneration of health professionals, President Zuma said government was paying urgent attention to the issue to remove uncertainty in the country's health services.

Last Friday, thousands of doctors affiliated with the South African Medical Association held protest marches in Pretoria, East London and Durban demanding an immediate implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), a 50 percent salary increment and improved working conditions in the public health sector.

The doctors were assured by the minister that government was working around the clock to address the challenges they faced and the matter would be resolved soon. - BuaNews