23 March 2012
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has identified 10 districts in the country for the much-awaited pilot of South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI), which will be phased in from 1 April.
Making the announcement in Pretoria on Thursday, Motsoaledi said the NHI pilots would focus on the most vulnerable sections of society across the country, reduce high maternal and child mortality through district-based health interventions, and strengthen the performance of the public health system in readiness for the full roll-out of NHI.
Assessing the effectiveness of the NHI package
The pilots will further assess whether the NHI’s health service package, primary health care teams and strengthened referral system will improve access to quality health services, particularly in rural and previously disadvantaged areas of the country.
The objectives of the pilots include testing the ability of the districts to assume greater responsibilities under the NHI, and to assess usage patterns, costs and affordability of implementing a PHC service package.
10 districts, one extra in KwaZulu-Natal
The districts are: OR Tambo (Eastern Cape), Gert Sibande (Mpumalanga province), Vhembe (Limpopo province), Pixley ka Seme (Northern Cape), Eden (Western Cape), Dr K Kaunda (North West), Thabo Mofutsanyane (Free State) and Tshwane (Gauteng).
Due to high population numbers and a high disease burden, two districts have been identified in KwaZulu-Natal – uMzinyathi and uMgungundlovu. However, the province has added a third district, Amajuba, and will be using its own funds to carry out the pilot.
The selection of the districts was based on a range of indicators, including socio-economic indicators, health service performance, and financial and resource management.
Department ‘ready for the roll-out’
On financing the pilots, Motsoaledi said this was part of an ongoing engagement between the Department of Health and the National Treasury, which has allocated R1-billion for the project.
An optimistic Motsoaledi said the department was ready for the roll-out of the pilot and would be visiting all the identified districts, where he would be interacting with traditional leaders, church leaders, nurses and doctors to explain the projects ahead of the April launch.
He will also be meeting with medical practitioners from each district, to ask them to assist in the NHI clinics for a few hours each week, for which they would be paid.