HAITU urges nationalisation of private hospitals to aid NHI roll-out

HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi emphasises the need for health-care transformation at a press conference. Picture: File

HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi emphasises the need for health-care transformation at a press conference. Picture: File

Published May 15, 2024


HAITU has expressed its satisfaction with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s endorsement of the NHI Bill.

The bill, which was ratified by the National Council of Provinces last December, aims to provide universal access to health care for all citizens. With the president’s signature, the bill has now reached its final stage before becoming law.

Citing Section 27 of the Constitution, HAITU emphasised that everyone has the right to access health-care services, including reproductive health care.

The union also highlighted Section 27(2), which mandates the state to take reasonable legislative and other measures to progressively realise these rights.

HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi stated that HAITU believes that not only is the implementation of the NHI long overdue, but they also advocate for a complete ban on private health care in South Africa.

“We argue that this measure is necessary to ensure that every individual has access to the same level of health care. The NHI can only be successful if it is the sole health-care option available to everyone,” said Mthunzi.

“Additionally, HAITU calls for the nationalisation of all private hospitals and clinics to make high-quality facilities accessible to the public. It stresses that health care is a basic human right and emphasises the need to prevent unnecessary deaths caused by resource shortages in the public sector.

“No one should die just because they are unable to access health care, it is a fundamental human right. The reality is that workers in the public sector have been dealing with thousands of unnecessary deaths caused by a lack of resources.

“In South Africa, there is a health-care system with two tiers: one in which the best resources, facilities and specialists are available in the private sector for those who can afford medical aid, and another where the majority of people rely on public health-care services.“

Public facilities often face crumbling infrastructure and severe staff shortages, making it difficult to provide quality care to the population, the union said.

“If we truly want to address inequality, the initial step is to guarantee that everyone has access to high-quality health care. This means that even the wealthiest individuals, like Johann Rupert, should be required to use the same hospitals as unemployed pensioners from disadvantaged areas,” added Mthunzi.

However, HAITU opposes the efforts of certain media outlets and private health-care owners who are spreading misinformation about the NHI to hinder its implementation.

“The owners of private health care have milked the public for decades, and they are motivated purely by greed, which is why they are rejecting it so passionately. They care more about their profits, than about the collective well-being of the country.

“We have normalised the abnormal in this country, and the banning of private health care is the first step to normalising the situation and towards ending inequality.”

HAITU acknowledged the existing challenges, such as the severe shortage of nurses and inadequate infrastructure in public health-care facilities.

“However, we believe that the signing of the bill should prompt the government to address these issues by investing in training more nurses and improving infrastructure.

“These challenges should not hinder the implementation of the bill as it represents a crucial step towards transforming the South African health-care sector to ensure universal access, as outlined in the constitution,” said Mthunzi.