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Friday, 23 August 2019

JOHANNESBURG, August 23, 2019 – South Africa’s largest health administration and medical risk management solutions provider, AfroCentric Group, said while it supported affordable health care for all, the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill was still vague and implementation details, particularly funding were still uncertain.

The group, which owns health companies such as Medscheme, medicines distributor, Pharmacy Direct, drug manufacturer Activo and several other health related companies, thereby offering a comprehensive and diverse range of health offerings, said it hoped that sanity would prevail for a collaborative approach to achieve a calm, cogent, phased introduction of a health system that achieves universal coverage. 

"We welcome the tabling of the NHI Bill in parliament. We are in full support of the need to transform the health sector into one that offers affordable, accessible and sustainable quality healthcare services to the South African population," said Ahmed Banderker, AfroCentric Group CEO.

"The bill provides information on what will be required to bring the NHI Fund to reality, including some of the core institutional and organisational changes required to support the path towards universal health coverage.

"We will utilise the opportunity that the parliamentary public consultation process will provide to stakeholders to make further inputs for the purpose of clarifying some elements that have not been adequately explained in the bill and considerations that could assist in reaching the intent of universal coverage," said Banderker.

Bandeker said private health care would continue playing a significant role for many more years to come.

"While it is accepted that there have been challenges with various aspects of the industry, we think there are significant lessons and experiences that government can gain from creating a more inclusive process that strategically taps into the skills and expertise within the industry.
"This expertise could include creating an NHI legal framework that allows for a duplicative environment which enables the NHI Fund to offer wider innovative product offerings that medical schemes and health insurers can provide to meet the needs of the population," he said.

Bandeker said details of NHI’s benefit packages and elements of the transitional plan would assist in planning for the transformation required of the private sector and prove for certainty for employers, employees and scheme members.

 "We believe that it is possible for a framework to be provided that could allow for the introduction of benefit options that could increase scheme coverage to a third of the population.

"Simultaneously, the national fund could focus on the indigent, infrastructure development and resource planning and we could then align those to have a national system that provides quality care to the entire country," he said.

He said affordability has been a key concern for medical scheme members and AfroCentric Group had been working to reduce health care costs.

 "Given the current economic climate, the potential economic and employment impact of the NHI Bill on us as an employer, our staff and the lives we administer will remain of careful interest to us. We are certain that numerous opportunities will continue to exist for the development, testing and implementation of mutually beneficial and innovative healthcare delivery models and solutions through partnership.
"We need clear details of the contents and action plans of the social compact which the public and private sectors can work collectively in meeting the health needs of the population through well designed and implemented partnerships in the areas of infrastructure funding, service provision and overall health system strengthening," he said.

He said over the years the company had been pursuing the diversification of its involvement in the health sector and this augured well for transformation agenda progresses towards NHI.

"AfroCentric is now the most diversified health care company in Southern Africa. We have also adapted our strategies to align our business model to government’s health policy direction and have successfully demonstrated our abilities in these. A number of our subsidiaries entities are working closely with the government in delivering innovative and sustainable services, such as the provision of chronic medication to government clinic patients across four provinces.

"We continue to utilise our diverse set of skills and expertiseto proactively pursue opportunities for collaboration with government in a calm, cogent, phased implementation of a health system that achieves universal coverage," he said.

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