The National Health Insurance (NHI) is not a radical shift to dismantle a functioning system, but an opportunity to review two poorly functioning ones.
The public sector sees very high volumes of patients but gives them bad service and produces very poor outcomes. The private sector is modelled on low volume, high cost care – it uses its huge quantities of resources badly, to service very few people.
As the Health Market Inquiry (HMI) report makes clear, the large commercial medical schemes are resisting needed reforms that with better productivity would lead to the convergence of the two systems. In particular, they persist with an outdated tariff system that pays for services not outcomes and doesn’t support team-based delivery models. This is probably because it threatens their claim payment and ‘managed care’ role that justifies a very high income. This strategy is counterproductive for their members.
When the US went to bat for Big Pharma in the fight against this killer disease, South Africa wasn’t having any of it. Here’s what happened next.
Graveyard cough, white plague, consumption. A killer by any name, TB has stalked the human race for aeons, lurking in crowded tenements or following miners deep underground, hanging in the air of our hospitals.
Always there, yet rarely spoken.
Today, it kills more people than HIV and malaria combined, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports. In South Africa, Statistics South Africa’s latest data shows TB remains the leading cause of non-violent deaths.
Yet it took the United Nations 73 years to call a meeting on TB — and only because a very excitable South African health minister agitated enough for it.
Twin City Mall in Bloemfontein is the newest site for the innovative ATM pharmacy that gives patients with chronic illnesses repeat medication in under five minutes.
The Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) was unveiled on 25 September, during Pharmacy Month, at the central community shopping centre, which is on main transport routes and is open for extended hours including weekends and public holidays. The first such dispensing unit was launched in Alexandra in Gauteng in March this year.
The Pharmacy Dispensing Unit works like an ATM for medication, with Skype-like audio-visual interaction between patient and a remotely located tele-pharmacy contact centre. Patients are able to talk to pharmacists in a call centre 400km away in Centurion, Gauteng – showcasing the benefits of tele-pharmacy to patients in rural and outlying areas. This allows patients to access accurate medicine information and counselling from qualified pharmacy staff.
The next generation of healthcare buildings will be very different from the hospitals, clinics and general practitioner (GP) surgeries we are familiar with today.
A revolution in building design is already underway, which has largely been prompted by an acceleration of technological innovation, changing population demographics, shifts in expectations of how healthcare should be provided and environmental considerations.
In the pursuit of a prosperous future of inclusive and sustainable growth, where all African people have a high standard of living, quality of life, sound health and well-being, learning from global trends and adapting these to suit African conditions may be the key to building successful networks of healthcare infrastructure and medical facilities across the continent.