It’s Tuesday morning in Soshanguve Township north of Pretoria in Gauteng and the Christian Church assembly is packed with community members. They have all gathered for a community dialogue organised by Treatment Action Campaign Ekurhuleni.
The theme for the dialogue was centred on the National Health Insurance and National Strategic plan. While many from the audience understood the NSP, many were expressing their deep confusion about the National health insurance and how will it link with improving quality healthcare in the country.“I have always wanted to understand what NHI is and how I was going to benefit” says Linah Msibi. Msibi lives in Soshanguve block BB and say she often reads about NHI from newspapers but never really understood what it means for her. While the piloting of the NHI began in April 2012 in the Tshwane district, community members at the dialogue showed concerns that they haven’t seen much been done and questions were posed to the DOH representative present at the dialogue.
Mr Pitsi, the acting chief director at Department of Health Tshwane told the audience that the reason they have not yet seen tangible results is because the first phase of the project involved developing of business plans for hospitals and also looking at the infrastructure and human resource issues in the hospital.The Department of Health has allocated a grant of R31.5 million for the roll-out of NHI in Gauteng and 11, 5 million was granted to the district hospitals in Tshwane. Andrew Mosane, a secretariat member at Treatment Action Campaign Ekurhuleni, said in his presentation that the Department of Health needs to involve civil society more the piloting of the NHI. “We are the people that know what goes on in the hospitals and clinics and we know the quality of health care the patients need,” he said. He added that more consultations are needed on the ground level to make people understand the progress of NHI.
Both Department of Health and Treatment Action Campaign agreed that further consultations and discussions were needed in Tshwane community not only to discuss the progress of NHI but also for department to take issues from the community into considerations when designing new systems for a better health care of the country.