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NHI-ready clinics benefitting communities

Written by Dale Hes

Clinics built as part of preparations for the launch of the National Health Insurance (NHI) are already making a difference in the lives of community members around the country. 

NHI pilot projects have been rolled out in 11 health districts countrywide and the Minister of Health has met with over 15 000 stakeholders.

At the end of 2019, eight NHI-ready clinics were opened in the OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape. These clinics meet the criteria set out by the Department of Health’s Ideal Clinic Programme, meaning that they offer high quality healthcare to patients. 

The criteria includes:

  • good infrastructure
  • adequate staff
  • adequate medicine and supplies
  • good administrative processes.

At the opening of the clinics, Deputy Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla said government is steadily moving towards its goal of providing free quality healthcare to all.

The clinics in OR Tambo have greatly improved the quality of healthcare available to community members in this rural region.

The Gengqe and Luthubeni clinics, for example, both replaced old mobile clinics. Built at a combined cost of R57.3 million, the clinics both provide a full package of services for a population of over 13 000 people.

Some of the main features of the clinics include:

  • Fully equipped emergency rooms to deal with all types of emergencies.
  • High ceilings and lots of windows and open spaces to assist with movement of air and reduce infections such as TB, coughs and colds.
  • Three separate streams of care which cut down on patients’ waiting times.

Update on the NHI process

Through the NHI, funds will be pooled through general taxes. People who earn high incomes will also contribute special NHI taxes. Proceeds of the fund will then go towards providing free medical services for South Africans.

In February this year, the public hearings on the NHI Bill were concluded. The views raised will now be considered by Parliament’s Health Committee, before the Bill is voted on by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. If the Bill is pass by Parliament, it will be referred to the President to be signed into law.

The NHI is expected to be fully operational in 2026.