by Susan Gertz

Healthy young minds

Implementing NHI at foundation phase level

Healthcare at a primary level

The National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot project for the Western Cape would emphasise providing healthcare to schoolchildren in the Eden District, particularly those in grade R and grade 1.

The project’s main purpose, however, was to look at how primary healthcare could be "re-engineered" in the future, said Western Cape MEC for Health, Theuns Botha, at the launch of the pilot.

The Integrated School Health Programme includes health assessments for hearing, sight, gross motor functions, weight, height and oral health.

Six nurses from the Western Cape Health Department will visit selected schools in Eden. The national Department of Health has donated three mobile clinics to support the pilot project: one for eye services, one for oral health and one for primary healthcare.

The project is the latest to be launched among the 10 targeted districts across the country. In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma said an NHI fund would be established next year - the year in which the insurance programme was to start nationally.

Mr Botha said: "There is no final model yet for the NHI, but we believe the province can contribute to seeing what works and what doesn’t.

"The Western Cape government is totally opposed to the centralisation of tertiary healthcare facilities, as has been proposed in some circles."

Professor Craig Househam, head of health in the Western Cape, told the meeting that health facilities in the Eden District were already "exceptional", and for this reason the district was very privileged.

He said that the pilot project afforded the opportunity to "experiment" and that the NHI was by no means "a finished product".

"There is no such thing as free healthcare. For the time being, the total amount allocated to this pilot project is only R11.5-million. That sounds like a lot, but you have to consider the provincial health department’s budget is R15 billion. As time goes by, perhaps we will see more money being allocated to the NHI pilot project," said Prof. Househam.

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