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Mar 23 2012 7:30AM
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Ina Skosana

The 10 districts where the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot programme will take place were announced in Pretoria yesterday.

The announcement was made almost a week ahead of the official start of the NHI pilot programme.

Addressing a high-level delegation of health officials, including eight health MECs and representatives from the European Union, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the implementation of the NHI would not impact on private healthcare.

The 10 districts where the NHI pilots will take place represent a district in each of the nine provinces, with two sites identified in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We have identified two districts in KZN because it has the second biggest population in country and it has the biggest disease burden,” said Motsoaledi.

In addition to the two districts identified by the national Health Department, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial department will finance a third district that will be part of the NHI pilot programme.

The programme will begin on April1. “We chose this date simply because it coincides with the beginning of the financial year,” said Motsoaledi.

This marks the start of the three phases of the NHI, which will be implemented over 14 years.

The first phase will see a focus on the strengthening of primary healthcare and service delivery.

“What we are doing with the pilots is setting up the building blocks for the successful implementation of the NHI,” he said.

The minister warned that people should not expect fireworks when the pilots start.

He used the analogy of the 1994 elections, saying the pilots would bring about gradual change in the lives of about 20% of the population directly affected.

“The programme will focus on the most vulnerable sections of the country and strengthen the performance of the public health system and the functioning of the district health system,” he said.

The districts were selected according their demographic composition, their socio-economic situation and burden of disease.

The audit of public health facilities is nearly complete and will provide clear indications of areas that need to be improved for the NHI to succeed.

Motsoaledi listed non-negotiables for the health system such as the accessibility of vaccines, infrastructure development and the payment of suppliers.

The department said it would undertake roadshows to get the relevant communities on board regarding the NHI.

A call was made to general practitioners who run their own practices to commit to serving three or four hours a day in government clinics to help relieve the pressure on hospitals.

The selected NHI pilot districts per province are:

• Eastern Cape – OR Tambo

• Mpumalanga – Gert Sibande

• Limpopo – Vhembe

• Northern Cape – Pixley ka Seme

• KwaZulu-Natal – uMzinyathi and uMgungundlovu

• Western Cape – Eden

• North West – Dr K Kaunda

• Free State – Thabo Mofutsanyane

• Gauteng – Tshwane

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