Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has allocated R4.5 billion for the 11 National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot sites over the medium term.

NHI aims to reform SA’s healthcare system and to improve access to quality healthcare services that are efficient and affordable.

“NHI, which is being implemented at 390 sites, is allocated R4.5 billion over the medium term. The information system used at these sites to manage patient records will be improved, with an additional R276 million for this purpose allocated over the medium term to the information systems component of the NHI Indirect Grant,” said the National Treasury during the 2016 Budget Speech.

In the Budget Speech, Gordhan said health financing is complex because the demands unavoidably exceed available funds.

“This is the case even in advanced rich countries. Retirement and social security reform is complex because existing arrangements create long-term obligations, and the needs of today all too easily crowd out provision for tomorrow,” said Gordhan.

Treasury would shortly release further details on the financing of the NHI. In December last year, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi released the White paper on NHI but it didn’t answer key questions on how the policy would be funded and rolled out.

Dr Motsoaledi emphasised that public health service delivery improvements must be prioritised, and reform of the private health and medical scheme environment was needed.

In addition, the Treasury has allocated R300 million on developing a national electronic medicine stock management system, a key element to NHI as outlined in the White paper.

Treasury said that the health facility revitalisation grant – which has been underspending in recent years – has been reduced by R365 million over the medium term to support reprioritisation.

Treasury also said that the reduction, which represents 2.1% of the grant, is not expected to adversely affect service delivery.

To strengthen the government efforts against HIV/AIDS, the Treasury allocated R15.9 billion on HIV/ AIDS treatment and prevention campaigns. Over the next three years, the department will spend:  R984 million to expand coverage of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention initiatives, including supply of antiretrovirals. The goal is to ensure that by 2020 90% of all people living with HIV know their status are receiving treatment and have undetectable viral loads.

R740 million has been allocated for the treatment of TB, including enhanced screening and earlier detection and diagnosis

Overall, the Treasury has allocated R168.4 billion in 2016/17 to health, R31.9 billion towards primary healthcare services and R88.2 billion for hospitals.

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