NHI FACES CHALLENGES

Growing concerns over proposed NHI

Pharmacists lose confidence in NHI
Concerns over NHI persist

A survey of the pharmacy profession in South Africa has highlighted a growing concern amongst pharmacists over the efficacy of the Department of Health’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, as the best solution to providing universal healthcare access to South Africans. 



The findings of the first quarter survey, which was conducted by PPS, revealed that 54% of respondents did not agree with the principle behind NHI, up 15 percentage points from the previous quarter. 

According to Ivan Kotzé, Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, the drop in confidence of the proposed NHI scheme is an interesting development.



"It is important that we further explore these results, as some perceptions may be due to the current unavailability of information on funding mechanisms and involvement of all healthcare professionals in provision of services."

The survey of over 200 pharmacists (of which 16% are in the public sector and 84% work in the private sector) found that 81% did not believe that the NHI scheme is the right solution to fix the country’s ailing healthcare system.



Gerhard Joubert, Head of Group Marketing and Stakeholder Relations at PPS, says that despite such concerns, other findings revealed some positive news for the pharmacy profession, with the first quarter survey showing an increase in confidence in the profession over the next five years to 74% from 70% previously. 

"This is a very positive development and we are pleased that despite uncertainty over the impact of NHI, most pharmacists remain confident about their profession.

"

Other findings showed that 89% of respondents believe that not enough is being done to change current legislation to cater for the needs of the profession.

The survey also revealed that attitudes towards the expansion of pharmacies in large retail businesses are steadily changing. When compared to the first quarter of 2013, the survey revealed an 8 percentage point drop to 78% in the first quarter of 2014 for those who felt threatened by retail pharmacies. 



This was further supported by an increase in the belief that the opening up of ownership to lay people has made pharmacy more accessible to the public, to 43% in the first quarter of 2014 compared with 37% for the same period a year earlier. 

"There is clearly a need for effective and quality healthcare for all citizens in South Africa; however, further debate may be necessary on how this is structured. With the Department of Health expected to publish its White Paper in the imminent future, this will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to engage on such issues to ensure any new system is viable for all parties," concludes Joubert.

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