The
healthcare debate prompted by COVID-19 is not one on insufficiency of resources
but on the need for increased resources, Prof Morgan Chetty, IPAF chair and
moderator of this week’s Omnia Health webinar on  “UHC plans: ‘Pie in the sky’ – How Covid-19
Pandemic is shedding light on the best strategy for NHI”, noted in his summary

“COVID-19
has opened up cracks and deficiencies in our healthcare system pointing towards
a need to place greater emphasis on public health actions as part of UHC,
invest more and better on health, and not how much we spend on healthcare but
how well we spend what we have,” he added.

This, he
said, would require a need for regulatory changes and to deconstruct old
paradigms and build new ones: “The issue often debated is that we have two
factions whose views differ: healthcare is viewed by some as a fundamental
right but by others as a tradable commodity. So NHI is necessary for SA,”
Chetty noted.

“The
implementation must be in stages within our resource constraints. It is
predicted by visionary leadership. We must take the nudge from COVID that there
is an urgency to start the process of UHC.

In similar
vein, Department of Health Public Health and NHI Consultant, Dr Nicholas Crisp,
asked how sustainable was it to spend 4.5 % GDP on 15% of the population “and
still get poor outcomes?”:
“Rather than
focus on what COVID has done, where is the leadership to get us out of this
situation?

“Do not waste a
good crisis, as they say. We have experienced a wake-up call have to push the
reset button. My focus,” Crisp added, “will be on what are we going to do now –
join hands to find practical ways to get better equity in healthcare.

““That’s where
data issue comes in. Once we start to collect data in uniform format that is
interoperable and can be shared on a real-time basis – which will be required
to pay providers – we can collect data to tell us which part of the population is not
getting their needs met.

“We
can pay a higher price to force the market to respond so that we get strategic
purchasing for people who have never had healthcare before.”