President Ramaphosa signs the National Health Insurance (NHI) into law

The Office of the Presidency

May 21, 2024

The Black Management Forum (BMF) welcomes the signature by the President of the Republic, His Excellency, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law on Wednesday, 15 May 2024. The BMF hereby conveys its support of the move.

The National Health Insurance Act No. 20 of 2023 was gazetted on 16 May 2024. This means that the South African health sector and country now has a legal framework to implement the country and government policy on the NHI, namely the 2017 White Paper on the NHI.

The constitution of our country recognizes healthcare as a fundamental human right. It states that everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care services and no one may be refused emergency medical treatment. Everyone is entitled to healthcare in South Africa.

South Africa, a member of the community of nations who adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, have committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This target is an indicator of the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that, UHC means that everyone will have access to the full range of health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It covers the full range of essential services, from health promotion to prevention, and treatment.

The NHI Act directs the South African health sector, public and private which will be one, to provide universal access to quality health care for all South Africans as enshrined in the Constitution, with benefits such as covering South Africans of all races, rich or poor; having one pool of healthcare funding for private and public healthcare providers, the cost of healthcare being reduced, and no fees charged when visiting healthcare facilities, are the reasons why the BMF welcomes the Act.

The implementation of the NHI will have its challenges that need to be addressed, namely, the funding, governance, management, which form part of the process to ensure that the true intention of the NHI is sustained.

As black professionals, we remain available to assist the government in this process to ensure that governance structures are in place and that the implementation of this crucial law benefits the intended recipients in the long-run.