Minister answers where the money for NHI will come from

President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the NHI into law at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela / IOL

President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the NHI into law at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela / IOL

Published May 17, 2024


As we all know by now, National Health Insurance (NHI) is the tool used by governments to implement universal health-care coverage for their citizens to achieve quality health care for all, regardless of their social standing.

Put differently, NHI means pooling funds from employed workers. The funds will come from a certain percentage of their salaries, determined by the government. This will will be additional to the normal pay as you earn tax, plus company taxes.

It is good that Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla explained that the signing of the NHI Bill paves the way for universal health-care coverage. This answers the question that many have been asking about where the money for universal health care would come from. It will come from the NHI, as it should be the case.

As the minister of health explained, the NHI will be implemented in phases; which makes perfect sense, as the Department of Health needs enough time to fix all the areas that were identified by many stakeholders as crucially needing to be addressed, if we are to make sure that ours will be a successful and sustainable universal health-care project.

Training enough health professionals of all categories cannot be overemphasised. That is partly where the success or failure of the project lies.

Building all the necessary infrastructure, identifying capable managers and training all necessary departments in the process of digitisation of patient information, which is necessary for easy access to the patient’s information nationally, and the best way to achieve universal health-care coverage. It is a crucial first step in preparing for the NHI.

Procurement of managers and other departmental managers, the whole preparation phase, is important and will be time-consuming but it addresses what people have been saying, that, in principle, we all understand that universal health-care coverage will ensure equitable health to all, regardless of their social status. Capable, knowledgeable manages are important in maintaining high standards of care, quality care.

Funding is an important aspect in the quality of care patients receive. This phase will take about two or four years? This depends on the progress made, but it seems good that the first step taken today to legalise the NHI was undertaken to start the ball rolling.

The roll-out of universal health care will depend on how quick the fixing of areas will take. Ethical, non-corruptible managers are the backbone of any successful establishment.

Cometh Dube-Makholwa