On Thursday, the Health Minister of South Africa, Zweli Mkhize tabled the bill of National Health Insurance (NHI) to the Parliament, getting one step closer to fulfilling the constitutional obligation of delivering quality universal health care to all.
Under the bill, the government will provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities, as part of its bid to provide more equitable access to quality healthcare.
Services like this would cover a vast range of people, such as prisoners, refugees, the permanent residents and all kids in South African region.
Non-citizens can also benefit from this bill, and the asylum-seekers as well as illegal aliens can only be entitled to the emergency medical services and also the services for the conditions that concern public health for example, HIV or tuberculosis.
Mkhize said that the NHI would benefit the citizens of South Africa as well as their permanent residents, the refugees, prisoners, the designated foreign nationals and also all children. He further added that as long as the system was accessed at an appropriate level of entering and the correct referral pathway was followed, the services would be free in terms of care.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health of the Parliament, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, welcomed the move, naming it an equalizer of the society, where the poor could access good healthcare and also called it a vehicle on the road of making all citizens have access to health care.
Dhlomo said that it was a public good and it also addresses the issues of social solidarity. He said that they could not wait to deliberate on the bill of NHI and present it before the committee, so the down-trodden could comment on it.