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South Africa Union speaks up for new national insurance scheme

Trade unions have blasted health privateers for an “attack on millions of South Africans,” placing their profits over access to healthcare.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) hit out after a pressure group of health practitioners and academics wrote a stinging nine-page letter attacking South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi over the implementation of South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI).

The group warned the plans were “poorly researched” and accused the government of “losing control of the NHI narrative,” focusing on Mr Motsoaledi’s poor handling of the project.

It follows sharp criticism from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) last week who accused the Department of Health of a “betrayal of the poor” by handing over the NHI to private hands with the introduction of a “multi-payer system.”

However the NEHAWU said it “shall not stand idle while its brain child is rubbished by greedy private healthcare providers in defence of their profits.”

It accused the critics of “ingrained elitist arrogance” by those “who seek to protect their extortionate profits that they extract from sick people.”

“Our long-held view is that the NHI will be better placed to deal with the challenges facing the public healthcare sector currently.

“We want to further warn anyone who still harbours ambitions of further delaying the NHI that they will be faced with the full might of the union,” NEHAWU charged.

NHI is set to replace the current system in South Africa which operates a mixed public and private health service.

However the public system is chronically underfunded and understaffed with vacancy rates as high as 75 per cent in some areas according to a 2017 report.

Mr Motsoaledi is set to make an announcement on NHI tomorrow.

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