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Building Grassroots Activism for a People’s NHI

NHI workshop with Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ) attended by 25 activists, Gugulethu, 23 November 2018

The People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA) ran a workshop on the National Health Insurance (NHI) for the Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ) in Gugulethu on 23 November 2018. There were approximately 25 activists who brought their questions to find out more about the NHI and what they should do about it.

The workshop explained where the idea of the NHI came from: The NHI is meant to put into practice the idea of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Department of Health’s commitment to realising the Right of Access to Health Care in our Bill of Rights. It is a response to the massive inequalities in the health system – between public and private, urban and rural, and hospital and community.

MCSJ activists discussing how to make the NHI work

We workshopped how the NHI plans to change this and what threats there are to achieving an NHI that reduces inequity in the health system. We discussed how the NHI Bill does not address prevention of ill-health, does not give communities a strong voice in making decisions, discriminates against migrants and lacks a vision for human resources needed – particularly for Community Health Workers.

The NHI needs strong, principled and incorruptible leadership and must prioritise strengthening the public sector and the rural areas. We see the private sector trying to position itself to shape the direction of the NHI to its benefit. We need a people’s NHI, not a private sector NHI. This means committing to Community Participation and Equity based on a One-payer system that is Pro-Public.  We need to mobilise Civil Society for an NHI based on Social Solidarity and Universality – the NHI must be for Everyone and Everywhere.

Leslie London facilitating NHI workshop with MCSJ

PHM South Africa is coordinating a national coalition on a People’s NHI and will involve MCSJ in the campaign. PHM-SA will work with MCSJ in the way forward. A number of actions were suggested, including taking information to communities so that people can develop a better understanding of the NHI, producing pamphlets in local languages and using local community radio and newspapers, holding further workshops, having community dialogues, and supporting MCSJ to do research in the community about the NHI.

PHM-SA and MCSJ will work together on these and other activities to take forward our campaign for a People’s NHI based on the right to health – to which everyone in South Africa is entitled.

About Tinashe Njanji