The civil rights organisation AfriForum is of the opinion that the market inquiry into private healthcare is a way to divert attention from the massive problems experienced in the public healthcare sector.
Dr Eugene Brink, AfriForum’s Health Spokesperson, says the inquiry unnecessarily makes scapegoats of the private sector while public hospitals are falling apart. “It is an expensive witch-hunt. The inquiry has to date cost more than R200 million and serves as a ploy to bully the private sector to provide services to the state cheaply under the guise of National Health Insurance (NHI).
“Healthcare is one of the most regulated sectors in the economy. The private sector’s share in healthcare in the country has in the last 20 years declined a great deal compared with the public sector due to this fact.”
According to Brink, the inquiry is simply a way to give the state greater power when large businesses retreat, and not to help smaller businesses. “My own research indicates that neither the larger hospital groups nor smaller hospitals are allowed to fulfil the growing demand for private medical services.
“Certain towns and cities across the country are growing without the state allowing the private sector to grow and to provide services to the people. Consequently people need to drive long distances to other places or make use of maturing state services. The larger companies erected hospitals and clinics where no-one else wanted to and now they are being vilified for it. If someone couldn’t create an economy of scale, many places would still have been without quality medical services.
“Private medical services and medical funds are something that is used voluntarily and it is not enforced on anyone. They would not even have existed if the state hadn’t in the first place failed in its duty to provide medical services. There are also big role-players in other sectors of the economy that dominate the lion’s share of it. Why make the healthcare sector the exception?”
Brink also questions the timing and completeness of the final report. “It required five years and a lot of money to compile this report and now it is suddenly released because government wants to institute the destructive NHI. Where are the findings on the critical state of public health services that are used by the majority of the country’s citizens?”