National Health Minister Joe Phaahla says the Portfolio Committee on Health in the National Assembly has made significant progress to process the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill after their work was paused due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Phaahla was speaking on Monday at a high-level Universal Health Coverage (UHC) seminar under the theme, ‘Build the World We Want: A Healthy Future for All’ at Birchwood Hotel in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
“We have virtually completed the main work of the Bill. In the coming year, they will be able to finalise it and table it to a full sitting in the National Assembly.
“We can say, we are in a critical time when the legislative framework for our approach to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is almost completed,” he said.
The Minister told the guests that the UHC was not a new aspiration.
“Our Bill of Rights states that the State must take progressive steps for the realisation of the right to health within the limit of its resources,” he highlighted.
On 12 December 2019, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a resolution urging Member States to accelerate progress toward UHC.
As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, all countries committed to trying to achieve UHC by 2030, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
“Unfortunately, as it’s now common knowledge, hardly five months after this declaration, COVID descended and disrupted all our health services worldwide and in our own country,” he added.
While government is working around the clock in order for all people have access to the health services they need, without facing financial hardship, the Minister said, many challenges lie ahead.
“There are already challenges, just in terms of the implementation of our structure of preparing for the NHI in the department. We are already in court with some of the right-wing organisations.
“Once the Bill is passed in Parliament, there will be a slew of litigations, Phaahla cautioned.