South Africa: Forget NHI - Strengthen What We Have, and Build What We Need - Jobs

opinion

Medicine alone is rarely the answer to public health crises. Jobs, good education, safe neighbourhoods, housing and healthy food are what South Africans need to rectify the gross health inequalities persisting in our society, not health insurance.

I'd rather be a poor patient in South Africa than uninsured in America.

I've worked as a family physician in community health centres in struggling communities in both South Carolina and Cape Town. Without a doubt, my patients in Cape Town have access to much better healthcare than my patients in America.

In South Carolina, at a federally subsidised community health centre, my uninsured patients had to pay $30 for a clinic visit. Each medication at Walmart was a minimum of $4 for a one month's supply (most people were on 4-5+ chronic medication). Insulin was at least $30 a vial and steroid inhalers for asthma were so expensive (more than $100) that we had to apply to the company for free samples.

Forget elective hip replacements or specialist consults. Emergency hospitalisation? Sure, the cardiologist would treat your heart attack, but would you like a payment plan with that stent? I routinely had patients refuse to go to the emergency centre for serious...

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