The poor and limited use of data since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has to be realised and strengthened particularly in light of the NHI proposals.

Highlighting this point during the OMNIA Health ““UHC plans ‘pie in the sky’? – How the COVID-19 pandemic is shedding light on the best strategy for NHI” webinar this week, Dr Adiel Chikobvu, Director of Health Economics and Financing – Gauteng Department of Health, said that while there were a number of “big wins” from spaces created by COVID in terms of NHI prospects – such as MOU’s between the private and public sectors, innovations like drive through testing facilities, daily surveillance reporting, hot-spot profiling and an automatic real-time dashboard – there were still many lessons to be learnt.

In addition to the data shortcomings and the need to rectify, Chikobvu alluded directly to the most concerning issues surrounding centralised procurement: “The PPE saga! What this has shown is that we need strong systems of processing and governance in place. NHI will be a big fund and a very strong and accountable matrix will be required in terms of governance.”

Related issues of concern, he said, were non-competitive pricing, the lack of standardisation of responses across the provinces, and other health problems “taking a back seat”: “We need an all-inclusive health delivery platform capable of dealing with all at once.

“We have also seen a tense relationship between labour and employers – a vital lesson for NHI which requires a shared obligation in which all must take custody and responsibility for it.”