Current news update

17 November 2019

Mediclinic sees no immediate threat from NHI

Business Day 14 November 2019 – View is in contrast to the Hospital Association of SA which predicts that the current vision for universal coverage will cause extensive job losses

SA’s biggest private hospital group, Mediclinic International, is taking a pragmatic view on the government’s plans for universal health coverage, saying it poses no immediate threat to the business. This view stands in contrast to research commissioned by the Hospital Association of SA (Hasa) earlier this year on the potential effect of National Health Insurance (NHI), predicting there could be extensive job losses if the government introduced price regulation and cut hospital tariffs. The first piece of enabling legislation for the policy, the NHI Bill, is before parliament. 

Ways to ease pain in the purse

Sunday Times 17 November 2019 – Medical aid rates are rising, but don’t just dump your cover

Medical schemes have announced increases for next year averaging about 9.1%, but could be as high as 12%.These increases are likely to leave a hole in your budget and you may be thinking of ditching your cover. But remember your cover is insurance protecting you from catastrophic expenses if you are injured or suffer a severe illness, so it is an essential on your budget. You can, however, trim it sensibly to make ends meet, health-care advisers say.

Pakistan vaccinating millions against typhoid superbug

Business Day 15 November 2019 -The new vaccine is the last chance to control the drug-resistant bug that has already infected some 11,000 people and risks spreading internationally

Pakistan began vaccinating millions of children against typhoid on Friday to try to control a drug-resistant superbug outbreak of the fever that has already infected some 11,000 people since 2016 and risks spreading internationally.

Have your say: 3 key elements of NHI Bill that need to change

Business Day 15 November 2019 – Section 27 - What the NHI Bill actually says and how it will affect access to health care services

National Health Insurance (NHI) can be divisive, not just because of what it proposes to do but because of how it is often sold as an all-or-nothing issue - either you buy into NHI completely, or you want things to stay essentially the same. There are few people in SA who would argue that any of our health systems are functioning as they should. The public sector is underfunded, overstretched and the site of gruesome daily news reports and personal experiences. Similarly, everyone who uses the private sector has a story of bad treatment, poor quality or overcharging.

Impartiality of ‘politicised’ NHI hearings called into question

Medical Brief 13 November 2019 - A recent public hearing on the National Health Insurance Bill has been criticised by civil society activists as “an ANC rally … a sham”, reports Spotlight. 

Thami Nkosi, Right2Know campaign manager, said in the report that the shambles of the Ermelo public hearings amount to a “watered down version of public participation that is an indictment on the ANC and on opposition parties who are not holding the ruling party to account”. He said the public hearings should not be reduced to political rallies, or manipulated processes of public consultation in decision making. The report says Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Siviwe Gwarube, who serves on the portfolio committee on health, also slammed the hearings as “deeply politicised”. 

Costly, lengthy, and safe process before drugs hit the shelves

BizCommunity 13 November 2019 - all medicines go through a very costly and lengthy research process before being approved for prescription to patients

Administrator Randall Carolissen is doing a sterling job at exposing the historic dysfunction at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). It would be naive to think Carolissen can provide a long-term fix for NSFAS. Without a fundamental change to the institution’s governance framework, it will remain a sitting duck for political capture. No matter how carefully he redesigns its internal systems, once his tenure as administrator ends, if the wrong people are appointed without adequate mechanisms to hold them accountable, NSFAS will once again be a pot of money for the unscrupulous to plunder. It is a lesson that health minister Zweli Mkhize would do well to heed, as he drives through the government’s ambitious plans for universal health coverage, better known as National Health Insurance. The writing is on the wall: without a serious revision of the NHI fund’s governance framework, plunder is inevitable.

Unemployed nurses march on KZN Health head office

Medical Brief 13 November 2019 - “Patients are dying on hospital benches while hundreds of nurses are unemployed,” says Nonhlanhla Mazibuko.

Marching under the banner of the South African Revolutionary Allied Workers Union (SARAWU) they were demanding that the department fill all the vacant posts at hospitals and clinics in KwaZulu-Natal.

Demon disease, worse than HIV: Soweto women's views on breast cancer

BizCommunity 12 November 2019 - Low-income communities in South Africa have the lowest incidence of breast cancer in the country. But they also have the worst health outcomes.

This is because it tends to be diagnosed too late for successful treatment when it may have spread to other parts of the body. In low-income communities, detection is low. This is partly because women delay seeking treatment due to financial and personal priorities. Some are also unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms. Others seek treatment from sangomas (traditional healers) first.

Govt's medical scheme spends almost R1bn to enhance benefits, including private hospital access

News24 November 2019 - he Government Employees Medical Scheme has reinvested close to R1bn to enhance benefits for members for 2020

The scheme has now announced a weighted average contribution increase of 7.69% across all its benefit options. The Institute of Risk Management South Africa for the second year in a row awarded GEMS for outstanding risk management in the healthcare sector. The Scheme was recognised for its leading Claims Management Forum. GEMS has developed a comprehensive risk management plan that has enabled the Scheme to reach the 25% statutory reserve requirement while improving the financial stability of the scheme in less than three years. Another change announced by GEMS, is that the scheme's Sapphire option - which has been renamed Tanzanite - now offers enhanced benefits. The Tanzanite One option, for example, will from 2020 offer members access to private hospitals as long as they use the GEMS private hospital network.

Publication date: 11/17/2019