During the National Budget Speech on 25th February, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene revealed that expenditure on health is set to grow steadily.

“Health spending will reach R 178 billion in 2017/18. We have seen a marked reduction in child mortality over the past five years, supported by improved access to antenatal services. Our antiretroviral treatment programme now reaches 3 million patients,” said Minister Nene.

He also noted that the mother-to-child transmission of HIV has decreased from 20% a decade ago to 2% in 2014, and that it is expected to decline even further in the period ahead.

Minister Nene said that R1.5 billion is being shifted from provincial budgets to the National Department of Health (NDoH) to enable the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) to be directly funded. This will be offset by lower tariffs for service providers by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). Port health services have also been shifted from provinces to the NDoH.

The office of Health Standards Compliance has been listed as an independent legal entity with a budget rising to R125 million in 2017/18.

Minister Nene said that under Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, there has been progress over the past year in preparing for the transition to National Health Insurance (NHI). He added that a discussion paper on financing options will be released shortly by National Treasury to accompany the NHI white paper.

It was also revealed that the long outstanding discussion paper on social security reform will be published. “Both health insurance and social security are vital concerns of all South Africans and we look forward to public debate and engagement between stakeholders.”

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