MPs get glimpse of NHI planning

18 August 2011 - 02:44 By ANNA MAJAVU

The five worst health-service districts to live in are Lejweleputswa, in the Free State, the Northern Cape's Namakwa and KwaZulu-Natal's Zululand, Siyanda and uMgungundlovu districts.

The best health district to live in is Cape Town, followed by Western Cape's Overberg, Eden and West Coast districts. Gauteng's Ekurhuleni was placed fifth.

Precious Matsoso, the Department of Health's director-general, presented this information yesterday to parliament's health portfolio committee. The country's 52 health districts were ranked from best to worst in planning the proposed national health insurance scheme.

This was the first presentation of the scheme to MPs but committee chairman Bevan Goqwana told MPs not to question Matsoso about it.

Furious opposition MPs accused him of trying to silence debate. They insisted that Matsoso tell them what would happen to medical aid schemes when the national health insurance scheme was implemented.

DA MP Mike Waters said the government had not come clean on whether medical aid schemes would be allowed to provide only top-up services not offered by insurance scheme facilities.

He asked how the department arrived at a R124-billion price tag for the scheme for next year if it could not say what services it would provide.

The scheme is intended to provide free basic medical services for all.

The government says the scheme's success will require spending the next five years improving public healthcare.

Service delivery and performance were two indicators used to rank health districts.

The department took into account total annual spending per person not covered by a medical aid scheme. It also measured rates of diarrhoea, severe malnutrition, pneumonia, effectiveness of antenatal care and TB cures.

Taken into account were access to basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity, and the number of child-headed homes and the number of households with an income of less than R400 a month.

The report did not name and shame poorly performing hospitals.

Consultants led by the non-profit Health Systems Trust will assess equipment, financial management, service delivery and quality of care at all 4210 public health facilities in the country.