Health summit a starting point to strengthening health system in South Africa
Author: BHF Published: 10/22/2018
The Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa (BHF) says affordable, accessible and
good quality health care should be the cornerstone for a unified health care system for all
Speaking on the sidelines of the two-day Presidential Health Summit held from October 19 -
20, 2018, BHF Managing Director Dr Katlego Mothudi said: “The Heath Summit is a very
important step towards a progressive dialogue on health reforms in the country.
Dr Mothudi said the Board had noted that the various stakeholders of the health sector had
been having their own conversations with little or no interaction with one another.
“We are aware of the problems experienced in the healthcare system. We have however not
articulated them in a way that can contribute to seeking solutions.,” said Dr Mothudi.
The Presidential Health Summit aimed to outline a roadmap towards the National Health
Insurance by rebuilding the health care system to provide quality healthcare for all.
“The Presidential Health Summit is an important element in this course - especially now. We
have seen definite progression outlining the path towards universal health coverage,” said
In his opening address the Deputy President, David Mabuza stated that: “As we plan to
introduce NHI in a phased approach from 2019, we need to incrementally accredit the health
facilities to meet the standards set by the Office of Health Standards Compliance.”
Dr Mothudi echoed the statement as Universal Health Coverage seeks to achieve good
quality health outcomes which are a key priority.
“There is a narrative that we need to fix the public sector and this needs to be done prior to
implementing the National Health Insurance (NHI). The view is that NHI can be a vehicle to
fixing the quality issues in the health sector and as BHF we support the principles of UHC
and NHI as a vehicle to achieve this coverage,” Dr Mothudi said.
Dr Mothudi said the private health care sector was arguably a better platform for service
provision. “We however need to ask ourselves what the minimum South African quality
standard is?” asked Dr Mothudi.
“We have always talked about collaboration - it is not enough to talk only about challenges.
We need to seek solutions and how they are going to be brought to the fore. The mistake
that we often make as an industry is to leave the responsibility of reforming the health sector
solely at the feet of the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, but we are of the view that
it should be everybody’s responsibility - as the impact of health care is on everyone,” said Dr
“Sustainability of medical schemes is one of our strategic key focus areas and making sure
that our member schemes are able to make provision for health services required by their
beneficiaries. The business of medical schemes is to provide health care services in
exchange of contributions they receive from their members. If they are not they able to cover
these expenses they will be failing their membership,” said Dr Mothudi.
“However, we note the challenges that the industry finds itself in. On a yearly basis, medical
schemes increase premiums by much more than inflation. We have seen several schemes
recently announcing contribution increases for 2019 of more than 9% whilst inflation is 5%.
Further, schemes are not growing as the Council for Medical Schemes has reported
annually that there is less than 9 million members registered,” concluded Dr Mothudi.
The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) reported that in 2017 the number of beneficiaries
registered was 8.9 million whist the previous year it was 8.8 million.
Note to editors: The BHF is a representative body of the healthcare funding industry. BHF
members include medical schemes, administrators and managed care organisations in
Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho.
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