AfriForum criticizes NHI; urges President and Minister of Health to reconsider

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today sent a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Health, dr. Joe Phaahla, requesting that the government reconsider the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI). This follows after Phaahla recently confirmed that the country has a shortage of doctors and a doctor-to-patient ratio of 0.32 to 100.

AfriForum’s letter argues that NHI is unaffordable for the already over-burdened taxpayer, who is taxed higher than in other countries with comparable GDPs and forced to pay “double taxes” for essentialised private services such as healthcare. The civil rights organisation also argues that the centralised health fund will be susceptible to the exact same failures that have characterised nearly all State-Owned Entities (SOEs). Perhaps most worrying is a 2021 poll from the South African Medical Association pointing toward the mass-emigration of healthcare professionals in the event of the implementation of NHI.

As a solution AfriForum suggests that the government should begin by solving the pre-existing governance issues in the public health sector. Along with this AfriForum suggests further expanding and stimulating the private sector to ensure greater competition between medical aid providers, thus allowing the workings of the free market to drive down prices for purchasers.

“The recent confirmation by the minister of the severe shortages of doctors in South Africa, is just another example of why a state-monopoly health sector will be catastrophic. This letter is an attempt to achieve a constructive dialogue with the government vis-à-vis NHI. However, if the letter falls on deaf ears, AfriForum will continue to oppose the proposed legislation with all the means available to us. Our fight against NHI is one of the most important battles on which the very future of this country depends,” says Reiner Duvenage, Campaign Officer for strategy and content at AfriForum.

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