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State hospitals spend R685 million on diesel for generators; not the right time for NHI

The FF Plus was shocked to learn that the country's state hospitals spent R685 million on diesel to keep the lights on between 1 April 2022 and 28 February 2023.

This was revealed in the reply to a written question from the FF Plus to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, after the Minister was unable to answer an oral question on the matter in Parliament.

According to the reply, the respective provinces spent the following amounts:

– Eastern Cape: : R81,134,000
– Free State: : R21,263,000
– Gauteng : R131,357,000
– KwaZulu Natal: : R178,387,000
– Limpopo : R57,656,000
– Mpumalanga : R44,659,000
– Northern Cape: : R28,303,000
– North West: : R40,494,000
– Western Cape: : R102,684,000

The country's public healthcare services already has a backlog of 175 000 medical procedures and legal-medical claims amounting to R125 billion. And in addition to that, astronomical amounts must be spent on generating electricity as well.

These factors on their own make it clear that now is not the right time to send the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill to the National Assembly (NA) for adoption.

The Bill must be placed on ice until the healthcare sector has stabilised and can function effectively.

With just 76 state hospitals and clinics out of a total of 213 currently being exempt from load shedding (according to the Minister's reply dated 9 February 2023), the ongoing power crisis affecting healthcare institutions will only be exacerbated by winter that is already knocking at the door.

If South Africa's infrastructure had not totally collapsed and was managed and maintained properly over the last 29 years, and if corruption, mismanagement and maladministration were not at the order of the day, there would have been no need to contend with these major challenges.

Seeing as the ongoing Eskom crisis has already forced the country to its knees, now is not the time to try and steamroller through ANC policy, like the NHI, in Parliament.

Instead, plans must be drawn up to enable the public healthcare sector to overcome the current power crisis.

It is time to oust the ANC government from power. Next year's elections offer the perfect opportunity to do so.

South Africans deserve so much better than the current ANC government.

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