1952 to 2017 Remembering a healthcare visionary
Author: BHF Published: 2017-01-22
Dr Humphrey Zokufa was born in Somerset East, in the Eastern Cape, on the 25th October 1952. He attended Primary School in a village called kwaNojoli. He completed high school at Healdtown Comprehensive School, a Methodist school located near Fort Beaufort.
He obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of the North in Limpopo and went on to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Post-doctoral Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, St Paul Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, USA. He proceeded to complete a Diploma in Health Management from the University of Cape Town. Dr Zokufa was registered with the South African Pharmacy Council as a Pharmacist and as a specialist in Clinical Pharmacokinetics.
A high-calibre leader whose hearty laugh and smile was contiguous, Dr Zokufa had an effervescent personality. His amiable and engaging disposition had procured him many friends. He was recently appointed as the Chief Executive & Registrar of Council for Medical Schemes after serving as the Managing Director for the Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa (BHF) for 11 years. Even though he was at the helm of a body that represents the private medical industry, he was a passionate proponent of the National Health Insurance (NHI) process with the goal of achieving universal coverage. His vision was much bigger than industry politics, he believed in equitable, quality healthcare for all. He was passionate about promoting access to healthcare for all South Africans and that is why he supported the NHI. He worked tirelessly to explore the role that the private health sector needs to play in the NHI process in order to achieve its shared aims. It therefore came as no surprise when the Minister of Health appointed him to be a member of the National Health Insurance Ministerial Advisory Committee in 2009. He also served on Work Stream 4, which was established to explore the role that Medical Schemes will play in a NHI environment.
Dr Zokufa was a determined leader, in 2010/2011, he challenged, on behalf of BHF members, the interpretation of regulation 8 of Medical Schemes Act. This played out in a highly publicized court case in which BHF asked the Gauteng High Court to issue a declaratory order to clarify the interpretation. Unfortunately various healthcare providers opposed this initiative. Undeterred by his critics and the Gauteng High Court judge’s rejection to provide the declaration, Dr Zokufa continued to engage in various meetings with the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, on this matter, asking him to intervene appropriately. The amendments to Regulation 8 of the Medical Scheme Act were ultimately issued by Department of Health in 2015. This he saw as the step towards balancing the scales, that will make private healthcare more affordable and accessible.
Dr Zokufa will be remembered for his willingness to talk regardless of the politics. He spoke out against escalating private healthcare costs, he was concerned about the lack of growth in the number of people that join medical aid schemes. And was committed to finding ways to reverse this trend, which has on a yearly basis seen medical aid scheme contribution increases that are higher than the CPI. He dedicated the time he served at BHF to work with industry leaders and various stakeholders to explore means and ways to bring some relief to the South African consumer.
Dr Zokufa possessed a great amount of energy, which he intelligently directed towards transforming the healthcare sector. He successfully implemented the dispensing licensing process by the Department of Health, to license non-pharmaceutical health professionals to dispense medicine. In 2003, he played a crucial role in the initiation of the provision in the Pharmacy Act 88 of 1997 of allowing any person who is not a pharmacist to own a pharmacy.
With nearly four decades of experience in the health sector, Dr Zokufa has served in numerous key positions including that of Chief Director : Health Management Services in the Eastern Cape Provincial Health Department in Bisho and Cluster Manager: Pharmaceutical Policy and Planning in the National Department of Health.
In January 2005, he was appointed as the Registrar for the Medicines Control Council (MCC). During this period he established the National Essential Drugs List Committee (NEDLC), and also took over the responsibility of licensing pharmacies, which was previously conducted by the South African Pharmacy Council. He was appointed by the Minister of Health to be a member of the Ministerial Task Team that looked at the restructuring of the Medicines Control Council (MCC) in 2006.
The industry has lost a strong and brave soldier, one who was not afraid to take the bullet for what he believed in. His death has robbed the industry of his vast knowledge and experience in the health sector.
At home Dr Zokufa was a loving husband to his wife, Thandiwe Zokufa and a doting father of 4 , three daughters and a son as well as a grandad to his 2 grandchildren.
May his soul rest in peace…