Parliament’s portfolio committee on health visited the North West province as part of its fact-finding tour, collecting views of ordinary South Africans on the tabled National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.
Bojanala Platinum District Municipality was the location of the committee’s first session in the province. The Rustenburg Old White Hall, next to the municipality offices, were filled with hundreds of residents who were either there to submit their opinion or listen to the proceedings.
North West’s healthcare system has been under the spotlight for poor ambulance services, allegations of corruption and shortages of treatment. Residents in Bojanala relayed these issues and more to the health committee.
One such submission came from John Masimini, chairperson of Sunrise Park Clinic. He says that he supports the implementation of the NHI, but that there needs to be monitoring of the process, so it is protected from corruption.
“It must benefit us, the poor. Not just the rich,” he told the committee.
Another resident, who did not mention his name, said he supports the NHI because he believes it will save people from “the corrupt department of health in the North West”.
The last of the North West leg of the hearings were hosted in Klerksdorp in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, and was attended by residents from as far as Wolmaransstad
Mariah Modibo, an 83-year-old pensioner, was one of the residents who submitted her testimony to the committee. Modibo hopes the NHI Bill will address overcrowding at clinics.
“My plea to the government with NHI is to address the overcrowding issue we face at our local clinics. I usually spend over five hours — sometimes almost the whole day — to collect medication,” Modibo said.
Klerksdorp-based physiotherapist Merada De Kock, says that the NHI Bill remains difficult to understand because the document is complicated, and uses technical concepts and terminology that ordinary South Africans don’t understand.
“The NHI’s mandate needs to be simplified for the broader public to understand it. For someone like me in the medical field, I understand it, but for someone else it’s a heavy document. It really needs to be clear on issues of it will address corruption and how the poor will actually benefit from it. People need more simplified information.”
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