Letter: Elders misguided in supporting NHI in the failed State that is South Africa - Cape Argus

6 September 2019 - We can't support a government which has failed, and which fails to consider cheaper, more logical solutions.

The Elders Group is "an international NGO of public figures noted as elder statesmen and women, peace activists, and human rights advocates", who were convened by Nelson Mandela.

One of their goals is to work on solutions to world problems, including universal healthcare. After meeting Health Minister Dr Zweli Mhize this week, the group expressed its support for the National Health Insurance NHI.

The elders seem to have little knowledge of the critical views of the NHI that have been expressed by civil society, opposition parties and academia. This is very worrying, because the opposing views are in general agreement that implementation of the NHI will be disastrous for South Africans.

There are many problems with the NHI, pervasive state control; a huge new bureaucracy; a likely decline in the quality of healthcare; and a huge tax burden placed on a shrinking tax base, among others.

The former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland said South Africa has the resources to make universal health coverage a reality. She said we should not let concerns about corruption or the weak economy stand in the way of the NHI.

But the Institute of Race Relations and others do not agree that we have the resources for the NHI. South Africa already has a universal healthcare system, albeit one that the government has severely degraded. We can't support a government which has failed, and which fails to consider cheaper, more logical solutions.

Sara Gon

Head of Strategic Engagement, Institute of Race Relations

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