June 2018 2nd Edition

NHI improves access to health in KZN

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is boosting health services and infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal. Through the scheme more people in the province are accessing health care initiatives than before.

KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has been conducting awareness roadshows about the NHI in the province, and visited UMzinyathi district earlier this week. These roadshows aim to educate communities on government’s plans to improve access to health treatment.

More people in KwaZulu-Natal are benefitting from improved healthcare through the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme’s pilot projects in KwaZulu-NatalNHI is currently being piloted in three districts: Amajuba, Umzinyathi and Umgungundlovu.

NHI is a government health financing system designed to ensure that all South Africans have access to quality, affordable health services, regardless of their socio-economic status and health needs. Pilot programmes to test the NHI were implemented countrywide in 2012.

In KZN, NHI has assisted with the implementation of the Re-Engineering of Primary Health Care system, which aims to provide greater access to quality healthcare through Family Health Teams, School Health Teams, District Clinical Specialist Teams and GPs/ doctors contracted to provide medical coverage in clinics in various wards.

Among the most notable benefits of NHI is the participation of general practioners in the Health Practitioners Contracting programme, which sees doctors visiting clinics at least once a week in remote areas of the province. This has led to improved medical coverage, better reviewing of and consultation with patients on chronic medication, decongestion of hospitals, and knowledge and skills-sharing opportunities for nurses.

Improvements in infrastructure had also been made in the building of hospitals, clinics and consulting rooms at the pilot sites since 2012. Construction has begun on the Pixley Isaka ka Seme Hospital in KwaMashu and three community health centres in Pomeroy, Dannhauser and Jozini and 17 new clinics have been built.  The department has also spent over R886 million on facility upgrades and maintenance.

The department has also appointed highly experienced health facility managers, and trained managers at various levels to improve leadership and governance.

Meanwhile NHI pilot programmes around the country have also taken off. The Eastern Cape opened phase 1 of the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in 2016, and the North West provincial government purchased 65 service delivery vehicles such as ambulances, mobile clinics, and patient transport vans in 2012.

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