There is a growing chorus of calls for increased public-private collaboration in South Africa with some experts and commentators going so far as to suggest that any large-scale healthcare reform, such as National Health Insurance (NHI), is unlikely to succeed without it.

Responding to this trend, the organisers of the upcoming Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) annual conference, to be held at the Cape Town International Conference Centre from 25 – 27 September, have invited a number of speakers to explore the potential and learnings of such partnerships gained elsewhere.

With Brazil often touted as an example of a country where the two sectors collaborate in a universal healthcare setting, the conference organisers have invited two healthcare chief executives to share their perspectives – CEO of Instituto de Estudos de Saúde Suplementar, Luiz Augusto Carneiro, and CEO of Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo, Denise Soares dos Santos.

Carneiro will look at the Brazilian experience of private sector funders (medical schemes) in a universal healthcare setting, and dos Santos will provide what is likely to be the most anticipated talk of day one of the conference, when she considers how the two sectors in Brazil have found a way to co-exist sustainably.

Special Advisor to the national Minister of Health, Vishal Brijlal, who has been deeply involved in the design and construction of aspects of the proposed NHI, will doubtless offer some of the Department of Health’s insights into public-private partnerships. This roster of speakers will be followed by a high-level panel drawn from private hospitals and funders who will further explore this topic from their particular perspectives.

“There are great challenges facing healthcare in South Africa, but there is so much potential and innovation on offer if we can get the public-private sectors working together. It seemed to us that our conference offered the ideal opportunity for all delegates attending to look at this topic from as many angles as possible. Most importantly, we wanted to use this conference to cement a call we made in our response to NHI in 2015 – for greater collaboration between the two and to leverage as much as we can the assets in the healthcare sector that we have, to benefit all South Africans,” said Chief Executive of HASA, Dr Dumisani Bomela.

“Each of the speakers we have invited to join this discussion and to share their experiences and perspectives will have a lot to offer delegates,” concluded Dr Bomela.

Conference registration is now open at Conference speaker biographies and a provisional programme can be found here.

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