Health summit a starting point to strengthening health system in South Africa

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 South Africans. 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 Dr Mothudi.

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 Mothudi.

“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.

For more information and interviews contact:
Nhlanhla Kubeka
frayintermedia: Account manager
Tel: +27 11 888 0140
Cell: +27 79 847 8975

Zola Mtshiya
Board of healthcare funders of Southern Africa: Head: Stakeholder Relations
Tel: +27 11 537 0236