The road to universal health care is precarious, and the National Health Insurance (NHI) proposal in its current form will have the opposite effect.

Our health system does not work. Ask any person who makes use of public health institutions their opinion of their experiences and most will repeat tales of horror.

It is therefore unimaginable that by taking what is broken and compounding it, while reducing the ability of those who can afford to not burden the state to seek private health care, will provide the panacea that is needed.

Real world examples of functioning, albeit slightly flawed, universal health-care systems can be found in places such as the UK. However, they were built on the foundation of capable states that were averse to negligence and corruption while allowing the private sector to accommodate those affluent enough to pay their own way.

Our public health system can work, and it can work within its current budget to benefit those who need it. What is needed is strong leadership and consequence management. If adopted, the current NHI proposal will be akin to feeding the sick poison in the expectation of a cure. All it will do is send people to their graves quicker.

Zanele Ndlovu

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