NHI will be one of the best things that ever happened to SA

Ideas

NHI will be one of the best things that ever happened to SA

Contrary to all the myths, universal health care works perfectly well in developing countries, says the author

Michelle Ramiah

As the government prepares the rollout of the new National Health Insurance (NHI), the population remains divided over whether the universal healthcare (UHC) plan will be beneficial for South Africans, or do more harm than good. There’s a lot of talk about whether the country can afford to have the NHI – I’d argue we can’t afford not having it.

The World Health Organisation declared in 2016 that SA has one of the most expensive private healthcare systems in the world, with only 17% of South Africans able to afford it. With public health facilities not up to par and the overwhelming majority of the population unable to afford private healthcare, the system desperately needs a change.

In 2015, 267 economists signed the Economists Declaration, stating UHC systems bring 10 times the economic return of their cost, and “in times of crisis, they mitigate the impact of shocks on communities; in times of calm, they foster more cohesive societies and productive economies”. Around the same time, the United Nations adopted UHC as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the world, with its 194 member nations signing on. From a purely globalist perspective, a UHC system in SA is inevitable...

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