Health Department considering billing neighbouring countries for services
The Department of Health is considering billing neighbouring countries for immigrants who access health services in South Africa.
Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla says they will be consulting with governments from neighbouring countries to assess whether they can foot the medical bills of the immigrants in South Africa.
Phaahla revealed this during his site visit at Kalafong Tertiary Provincial Hospital in Atteridgeville, Tshwane on Thursday where Operation Dudula members have been picketing for the past two weeks, according to staff members. The anti-illegal immigrants group has reportedly been preventing immigrants from accessing health services in the hospital, insisting that they pay for the services.
HEALTH MINISTER WEIGHS IN ON KALAFONG HOSPITAL PICKET
During the briefing at Kalafong Hospital, Phaahla revealed that they will consult with embassies to find out if they can foot the bill for immigrants from neighbouring countries who access health services from public hospitals in South Africa.
“We will consult with embassies to see if there is a need for refunding or there could be some compensation,” he said.
Phaahla added that the government is addressing the various challenges that are burdening the health system in the country.
“The whole government is looking at this issue, we are looking at its impact, its magnitude and options in terms of how the aspect of pressure on our services can be addressed, possibly working with the leadership of those countries where there are more numbers of people coming here,” he said.
Phaahla added that he believes embassies can help in cases where staff in hospitals have to deal with patients who need urgent medical attention but do not understand English or any other South African language.
“Some of these issues can be addressed, it is not just the issue of funding and resources, there are also other logistics. These are matters we are aware of and we are finding an organised way to deal with them.”
OPERATION DUDULA ADAMANT ON ITS STANCE
Operation Dudula members who have been protesting from some time outside the hospital were chanting slogans calling for illegal immigrants to go back to their countries.
The group also called for whoever comes into South Africa to be properly documented before they can access services because they are burdening the system.
“We can’t allow everyone to come and attend our hospitals, the exception would be fore those who have medical visas so they can be admitted in our hospitals so that should there be a problem any time our government should not be held accountable,” the leader said.
Following the video of pregnant women sleeping on the floor at Rahima Moosa Hospital in Johannesburg, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng called for the Health Department to start charging embassies for the treatment of foreign nationals in public hospitals.
“Foreign embassies should be billed for patients from their countries who are treated in Gauteng hospitals – this is a practical way to deal with the issue of foreign patients overburdening facilities, as seen in the video of pregnant women sleeping on the floor at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg.”
“Some years ago the Gauteng Health Department claimed that they were going to bill foreign embassies but nothing seems to have come from this. While most foreign patients live in South Africa, there are many cases where pregnant women from surrounding countries come to a South African hospital specifically to give birth.”