[Opinion] NHI could trigger skills exit

A South African Medical Association (SAMA) survey of its members in both the public and private healthcare sector found that 38% of respondents said they would consider leaving South Africa if the NHI was fully implemented.

The NHI Bill seeks to give the government control of every aspect of healthcare funding in terms of pricing and fees payable to healthcare practitioners in both the private and public sectors. For the private sector, fees charged may not be enough to cover overhead and other expenses and many practices will be forced to close. Healthcare practitioners might consider emigrating as a result.

Tawanda Makombo, analyst at the Centre For Risk Analysis (CRA) notes: “At present, medical personnel are strained. South Africa has a high people-to-doctor ratio in comparison to emerging market peers, as well as better developed countries. The country cannot afford to lose any more healthcare professionals.”

By moving forward to implement the NHI as a monopolistic healthcare funding provider, the government risks a brain drain of medical personnel, further hurting the already ailing healthcare sector.

by Tawanda Makombo

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