12 February 2010
The government is to work harder to improve South Africa’s healthcare system while finalising preparations for the establishment of the National Health Insurance system (NHI), says President Jacob Zuma.
Delivering his State of the Nation address in Parliament, Cape Town on Thursday, Zuma the improvments would include the building and upgrading of hospitals and clinics, as well as improving the working conditions of the country’s doctors and nurses.
Zuma said the government had partnered with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to improve the functionality of South Africa’s public hospitals and their district offices.
The government was also collaborating with the DBSA and the Industrial Development Corporation in a public-private partnership programme to provide finance for these projects.
National Health Insurance
“We will also continue preparations for the establishment of a National Health Insurance system,” Zuma said.
The broad objective of the National Health Insurance system (NHI) is to enable the creation of an efficient, equitable and sustainable health system in South Africa, based on the principles of the right to health, social solidarity and universal coverage.
Zuma noted that South Africans’ average life expectancy had dropped from 60 in 1994 to just below 50 years in 2010.
“We are therefore making interventions to lower maternal mortality rates, to reduce new HIV infections, and to effectively treat HIV and tuberculosis,” Zuma said.
Efforts would also be made to reduce infant mortality through a massive immunization programme, while health programmes would be reinstated in the country’s schools.
“We will implement all the undertakings made on World Aids Day relating to new HIV prevention and treatment measures,” Zuma said.
On 1 December 2010, Zuma urged South Africans to take steps to ensure that they did not become infected with HIV, that they did not infect others, and that they knew their status.
He said patients infected with TB and HIV/Aids would henceforth receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment when their CD4 count was at 350 or less. Previously, treatment was only available when one’s CD4 count was less than 200.
Zuma also announced that TB and HIV/Aids would be treated “under one roof”, with all pregnant women and children under the age of one receiving treatment.