Cape Town — South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says foreign nationals are burdening the South African health system.
The SABC reports that he was speaking on the second day of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union's Nurses' Summit in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The SABC is quoting Motsoaledi as saying that more hospitals and clinics are needed to accommodate all the local and foreign patients. He said South Africa needed to re-look at its immigration policies to control the number of undocumented and illegal immigrants in the country.
"The weight that foreign nationals are bringing to the country has got nothing to do with xenophobia… it's a reality. Our hospitals are full, we can't control them.
"When a woman is pregnant and about to deliver a baby you can't turn her away from the hospital and say you are a foreign national… you can't. And when they deliver a premature baby, you have got to keep them in hospital. When more and more come, you can't say the hospital is full now go away… they have to be admitted, we have got no option – and when they get admitted in large numbers, they cause overcrowding, infection control starts failing," he is quoted as saying.
The minister said that this was the reason why South Africa needed National Health Insurance. "...We know that some of these services are there in the private hospitals but they are there for a select few. When you have got overcrowding like this, you must use all the facilities in the country – whether they are public or private.
"I can't say this baby is about to die, he needs an ICU, there is no ICU in a public hospital but the private hospital next door has got an ICU and this baby cannot go there because she belongs to a lower socio-economic class… that's wrong – and that's what we want to change on NHI which people are trying to run away from."