Current news update

14 October 2019

NHI implementation 2026 deadline is too tight, FFC warns

Business Day 09 October 2019 – The Finance and Fiscal Commission says the timeline is too short to complete all the necessary steps to establish the National Health Fun

The government’s proposed deadline for establishing the National Health Insurance (NHI) fund is too short, the advisory body the state is required to consult with on revenue, warned parliament. The NHI fund is a central pillar of the government’s plans for achieving universal health coverage, which promises to provide patients with care that is free at the point of service. The mechanism and timeline for implementing the fund is set out in the NHI Bill, which is currently being considered by parliament. It proposes that the fund be fully operational by 2026.

Busa and health department in ‘cordial and constructive’ first meeting on NHI

Business Day 13 October 2019 – Business Unity SA says it was agreed that no details will be released until a mutual understanding or agreement on National Health Insurance has been reached.

Business Unity SA (Busa), which represents private companies and professional bodies, has had a “cordial and constructive” first meeting with the health department to discuss its plans for universal health coverage, it says.

Treatment gap looms large for state mental patients

Business Day 10 October 2019 – University of Cape Town research shows nine out of 10 people with a mental health problem are not getting the treatment they need from the state

Nine out of 10 people with a mental health problem who depend on the state for care are not getting the treatment they need, and almost a quarter (24.2%) of state mental patients who are admitted to hospital are readmitted within three months of discharge, according to the study, which was published in the peer reviewed journal Health Policy and Planning and released by UCT to coincide with world mental health day on October 10.

SA has little capacity to fend off tobacco lobby, report finds

Business Day 10 October 2019 - There is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health, says report

SA has extremely limited capacity to fend off the influence of the tobacco industry, according to an international report released on Thursday. “This report shows the industry has tentacles in many dimensions of government and society ... Despite its slick attempts to come across as a reasonable partner, the tobacco industry is anything but,” wrote University of Cape Town professor Corné van Walbeek.

Ministers claim courts used to thwart private healthcare oversight

Medical Brief 09 October 2019 - The ministers of Health and Economic Development hit back at Health Market Inquiry findings blaming the government for “inadequate stewardship” of the private sector and not doing enough to regulate private hospitals, doctors and medical aids. 

But, the report said, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, said at the launch of the report, that every time the health department tried to regulate the private sector, it got hauled to court. And Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, said via his spokesperson Lwazi Manzi: “Government was seen as interfering in the market … 

184 Gauteng Health staff illegally doing business with government

Medical Brief 09 October 2019 - Approximately 184 Gauteng Health staff members have private businesses that have dealt with government departments including their own. 

Bloom has expressed concern about staff doing business with the department, which has been the subject of “many corruption scandals”.

Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen hit with $8bn drug damages verdict

Business Day 09 October 2019 - Risperdal antipsychotic medicine is blamed for causing adolescent boys to grow female-sized breasts.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit was hit with an $8bn punitive-damages verdict — the largest jury award in the US in 2019 — over its alleged mishandling of an antipsychotic drug blamed for causing adolescent boys to grow female-sized breasts.

EDITORIAL: Zweli Mkhize on the spot over state’s role in private health

Business Day 09 October 2019 The government should implement reforms to stabilise runaway prices after the department of health neglected its oversight role

The inquiry rightly makes the point that it is the department’s responsibility to intervene, as it is the steward of the entire health system, public and private. And it astutely goes a step further, setting out clearly why a properly regulated private market is vital for the government’s ambitions for universal health care coverage. The report is now firmly in Mkhize’s hands. Let’s hope he recognises it for the gift it is.

Discovery and GEMS reject inquiry’s proposal to cap executive

Business Day 07 October 2019 - Principal officers of Discovery Health Medical Scheme and the Government Employees Medical Scheme earned R7.64m and R5.82m respectively in 2018

SA’s two biggest medical schemes have rejected the notion of capping principal officer and trustee remuneration, which is among the recommendations made by the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry in its final report released last week. The scale of principal officer and trustee remuneration has been a concern for the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) for several years, and the latest figures are laid bare in its 2018/2019 annual report, due to be presented to parliament on Thursday. 

Publication date: 10/14/2019