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Date: 11 Jun 2012
Title: Pricing Commission to be set up
By Gabi Khumalo
Pietermaritzburg - A Pricing Commission is to be established to address the commercialisation of the health sector, says Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
Speaking on Sunday at a visit to the uMgungundlovu District, which has been selected to pilot the first phase of the NHI for the next five years, the minister said the aim of the commission was not to fight with the private healthcare sector, but to bring the costs of healthcare under control.
"The pricing in the private health care sector has to be regulated to be in line with the Constitution of the country. I'm not fighting, but the amounts charged - are they justifiable?" Motsoaledi questioned.
Among the complaints from patients about private healthcare costs brought to the Ministry of Health include an amount of R67 000 charged to a patient for evaluation after a car accident and R30 000 for peri-anal abscess.
He insisted that the country needed to deal with the country's cost of health, which has gone out of control.
The 2010 medical scheme expenditure showed that a total medical scheme spent in health was R84.7 billion, hospital R31.1 billion, private R30.8 billion, public R281 million, specialists R19 billion, general practitioners R6.2 billion, dentists R2.5 billion, allied R6.7 billion and total non-health care R11.6 billion.
"If we allow the situation to continue, I don't know what will happen in the next decade," Motsoaledi warned.
The minister said the department would also develop a policy, where all learners coming to school for the first time will do eye, ear and oral hygiene tests followed by vaccinations.
Through the School Health Programme, the department will be bringing the issue of reproductive health under the spotlight to deal with the problem of teenage pregnancy.
"[A total of] 750 000 pregnancies were reported in public hospitals in 2007/08 with some girls having abortion three times within the period of six months. Family planning has disappeared and the only thing left is abortion," Motsoaledi said.
He added that last year, the number of pregnant learners in schools jumped to 95 000.
Motsoaledi has undertaken ministerial visits to all districts piloting the NHI. - BuaNews