In March, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) launched its health manifesto, which put questions around 11 key health issues to political parties. Since the document’s debut, TAC has organised public debates to let voters hear for themselves what parties are promising.
Recently, TAC’s Gauteng branch organised one such debate in Ekurhuleni townships outside Johannesburg. The debate was attended by representatives of the African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
At the debate, the ruling party ANC promised to implement the next phase of the National Health insurance (NHI) through the creation of a publicly-funded and administered NHI fund. The party also promised to expand free primary health care programmes, improve public hospital management and lower private health care costs.
“We are going to intensify the campaign against HIV and AIDS to ensure at least 4.6 million people receive antiretrovirals,” ANC representative Petros Mohlale told OurHealth. “We will expand medical male circumcision, and HIV testing and counselling programmes.”
Mohlale also promised that the party would ensure chronic medications were available and delivered closer to where patients live, benefiting hundreds of thousands of people.
EFF’s representative said the newly formed party would bring radical chances to the health system.
Local clinics, for instance, would operate 24 hours a day, and 5 000 students would be educated abroad to become doctors in order to respond to South Africa’s shortage of doctors, said the EFF representative.
While TAC acknowledges South Africa has made great strides in the fight against HIV, the AIDS lobby group has expressed concerns that corruption, poor management and political will may erode these gains.
TAC Provincial Secretary in Gauteng Andrew Mosane said he was skeptical of politicians’ promisies in light of medicine stock-outs and crumbling health infrastructure in provinces like the Eastern Cape.
“The ruling party has also made these promises before and none of them were fulfilled during its term,” he told OurHealth at the debate.
“How many old people go to the clinic and stand in long queues for the whole day?” he added. “Neither of the parties here today mentioned anything about how are thay going to handle that situation.”