Reforming healthcare in South Africa is an urgent and extremely difficult challenge for our policy makers, one which presents opportunities and risks across both public and private healthcare sectors.
With only 41 per cent of South Africa’s working-age population participating in the economy out of 5.9 million registered taxpayers, the public healthcare sector has a very narrow base of ‘solidarity’ funding that it is banking on to achieve its healthcare goals for over 50 million people.
The government’s strategy for health sector reform has two complementary components: the introduction of an NHI System and the second is a comprehensive rehabilitation and revitalisation programme for the public health sector.
Private sector healthcare can contribute directly to the rehabilitation of the public sector through restoration and promotion of opportunities for private sector specialists to work in the public sector; extension of private public partnerships to hospital management, supply chain management and clinical services and easing regulations and developing joint public/private planning on health professional needs.
To best contribute to broadening access to quality healthcare, the private sector must address its rising costs by addressing both supply side and funding issues.