South Africa: Could a National Health Insurance Fund Be Just Months Away?

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The time for talk is over, said Zweli Mkhize in his first budget speech as health minister. But if you thought that Cabinet's approval of the National Health Insurance Bill was the end of discussions, here's why you're wrong, writes Laura Lopez Gonzalez for the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill could be law by July 2020 if the health department has its way.

Delivering his first budget speech in parliament as health minister on Friday, Zweli Mhkize took to reciting a proverb that may become a tone-setting quote for his tenure: NgesiZulu kunesisho esthi umkhonto uphelela etsheni.

"Loosely," Mkhize said, "that means the spear of a coward gets destroyed by the unending effort to sharpen it instead of getting on with the battle."

Mkhize then explained: "We must stop sharpening the spear now and march to battle and implement the NHI. There will never be a perfect plan or perfect timing."

The ANC MP and former KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo then took to the floor.

"People say just fix your clinics and hospitals, and then everything will be okay [to roll out the NHI]," he argued. "Our research shows that no country in...

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