South Africa needs to spend more on health care to achieve universal cover

An article written by RESYST partners, Di McIntyre and Jane Doherty has been published on the independent news source ‘The Conversation’.

16 December 2015

Based on RESYST research the article states that although the goal of universal health coverage (UHC) has been on the South African agenda for 25 years, implementation has been unsuccessful and more money needs to be spent on healthcare.

Despite positive steps made by President Nelson Mandela; who recognised that access to health care is an essential human right, the picture in 2015 is far from perfect.

“About 8 million South Africans have expensive private healthcare while 42 million people rely on an under-resourced public sector. Inadequate access to healthcare perpetuates inequalities.”

The authors provide the following recommendations for preserving the impetus towards UHC:

  • lift the fiscal policy limit on government revenue as a percentage of GDP (the current 25% is well below the average of other middle-income countries)
  • focus on progressive revenue sources, including taxing the wealthiest more effectively
  • Ministries of Health will gain the trust and support of Cabinet and Treasury for UHC efforts if they demonstrate efficiency improvements and combat corruption
  • strengthen health leaders with sufficient technical and analytical capacity to support bids, especially on costing programmes

A related editorial was published in the South African Medical Journal.

Photo credit: Reuters/Antony Kaminju