Sunday 28 August 2011

Diocese of Cape Town rejects proposal to support Government National Health Insurance plan

This press release was issued on 28 August 2011

The ruling synod of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town has rejected a proposal that it should declare its support for the government's National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Meeting in Retreat, Cape Town, the synod approved a resolution saying that South Africa's current “two-tier” health care system was “neither just nor sustainable” and supported the principle of “just health care for all.”

However, it voted against a motion that the diocese should support the principle of the NHI. It instead called on Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to commission a study of the NHI upon which the church could base a decision.

Archbishop Makgoba said in a statement issued after the Synod:

“The Synod was unanimous in rejecting the current health care system, in which an expensive, profit-making private network, affordable only to a minority of mostly white South Africans, sits alongside an under-resourced, inefficient public health care system in which the vast majority of black South Africans receive care which is often inferior.

“There is a desperate need to improve access to health care and to improve hospitals and other infrastructure. The maternal and child mortality rates in our country are shocking for a country which has the resources we do.

“So we support the Minister of Health in his efforts to bring decent and affordable health care to all South Africans.

“But members of our Synod question whether the NHI will reform the system. Some of us fear that private hospitals will simply set up inferior 'NHI wards' alongside high-priced wards, replicating the current system.

“Others say that before introducing an NHI, the government needs to show its commitment to change by ending corruption and improving the attitudes of some health workers towards their patients.”

The original motion urging support for the principle of the NHI was proposed by the Revd Rachel Mash of St Mark's Church, District Six. The amendment calling for a study of the issue was proposed by Archdeacon Karl Groepe of the Church of the Ascension, Devil's Peak.

The Synod was held on Friday and Saturday at St Cyprian's Church, Retreat, Cape Town.

The final resolution read: “This synod, recognizing that our current two-tier system of health care is neither just nor sustainable, supports the principle of just healthcare for all and respectfully requests the Archbishop to commission a study of the NHI in the light of this and publish a statement to this effect.”

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