In Pravin Gordhan’s first budget speech of the 2017 year, there was more clarity made on the SSB Tax waiting in the wings for implementation. It supports the concept of classifying NCDs again as chronic diseases, linking it with disabilities and especially ensuring integration into the NHI district health services.
The SANCD Alliance and partners have made comments on the NHI and hope to be included in subsequent rounds of discussion.
Madam Speaker, the Government is moving towards the next phase of the implementation of National Health Insurance. We are committed to achieving universal health coverage, in line with the vision of the National Development Plan.
Eleven NHI pilots have yielded valuable insights, on which we are now able to build. These include:
- The design of contracts with general practitioners,
- More effective chronic medicine dispensing,
- Strengthening district health services through clinical specialist teams, ward-based outreach teams and school health services, and
- Supportive information systems.
In the next phase of NHI implementation, an NHI Fund will be established. Its initial focus will be:
- To improve access to a common set of maternal health and ante-natal services and family planning services,
- To expand the integrated school health programmes, including provision of spectacles and hearing aids, and
- To improve services for people with disabilities, the elderly and mentally ill patients, including the provision of wheelchairs and other assistive devices.
The service package financed by the NHI Fund will be progressively expanded. In setting up the Fund, we will look at various funding options, including possible adjustments to the tax credit on medical scheme contributions. Further details will be provided in the Adjustments Budget in October this year, and in the course of the legislative process.
Taking into account the 160 submissions received from the public, the National Treasury and the Department of Health are working together to revise and finalise the NHI White Paper and 2017 Budget Speech 21 the longer-term financing arrangements. There will be consultations with stakeholders over the period ahead on reform of the medical scheme environment, including consolidation of public sector funds.
Over the next few months, I will be working with Minister Motsoaledi, Minister Nzimande and Minister Patel on planning the Limpopo Central Hospital and the new medical school of the University of Limpopo.
Government is committed to increasing investment towards health promotion targeting noncommunicable diseases alongside the implementation of the sugary drinks tax, such as diabetes screening and nutrition education.