2012 Committee Programme & Proposed International Study Tour: discussion; Limpopo Oversight Report: consideration

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Health

29 November 2011
Chairperson: Dr B Goqwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee briefly discussed its programme for 2012 as well as the plans for the international Study Tour in January 2012. The Committee noted that the National Health Amendment Bill (which establishes the Office of Health Standards Compliance) would take up much of the agenda in the first quarter of the year. The aim of the study tour was to visit a country which had a functioning National Health Insurance. Australia and Thailand had been considered. Australia was not available to accommodate Members in January and thus Thailand was considered as the next option. Some Members felt that the Committee may not benefit from a tour to Thailand and that a better option would be possibly to postpone the tour to Australia until June 2012. However, there was the risk that the tour may be cancelled if they did not claim the January slot. Others felt that the Committee should visit a developing country instead such as Chile or Columbia.

Members
felt that the Committee researcher and secretary should furnish them with the relevant documentation on the countries they could visit, how those countries had fared with NHI and what the NHI structure was in those countries. They also requested that the Chair of Chairs should brief the Committee on the budget for the international tour and exactly which Members would be financed for the tour. They strongly felt that all Members who had regularly participated in the Committee meetings should be given the opportunity to attend the tour.

The Chairperson said that the relevant documentation would be emailed to Members during the holidays and thereafter a telephone conference could be held during which Members could debate the issues.

The Committee also approved the report on its oversight visit to Limpopo as well as several outstanding minutes.

Meeting report

Adoption of Outstanding Minutes
The Portfolio Committee on Health met to consider the adoption of draft minutes of proceedings for meetings of the 20 April 2011, 25 May 2011, 24 August 2011, 31 August 2011, 12 October 2011, 13 October 2011 and 2 November 2011.

Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) moved to adopt the minutes with minor amendments. Ms L Makhubele-Mashele (ANC) seconded the move.

Report on Oversight visit to Limpopo
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration.

Members were concerned about border control issues observed during their oversight visit to Limpopo. The influx of 500 000 foreigners should be of national concern, as it overburdened the country’s resources and the health system’s budget. The policy issue would be addressed with the Department of Health. The Committee would also require a report on the tender processes and procurement issues.

Ms Makhubele-Mashele moved to adopt the Committee report on their, with amendments and was seconded by Ms M Dube (ANC).

Consideration of the Committee Programme for 2012
The Chairperson said that the National Health Amendment Bill (which establishes the Office of Health Standards Compliance
) would take up much of the agenda in the first quarter of the year. Members pointed out that a strategy planning workshop should be scheduled before the strategy meeting and that the meeting should be earlier in the year to enhance Committee focus for the year ahead.

The Chairperson explained that the strategy meeting was scheduled after the President’s State of the Nation Speech and consideration of the Amendment Bill so that government priorities could be combined into the agenda. A draft Committee programme for 2012 would be emailed to Members during the holidays for consideration and comment.


Members were awaiting a report from the Medicines Control Council (MCC) on the outcome of the organisation’s restructuring, which had not yet been given Cabinet approval at the time of the meeting on 16 November 2011, as well as the document on MCC Restructuring following the 2008 Amendment Act.

A Member suggested that follow-up briefings to the Committee by the NHLS, MCC and MRC could be included in the 16 March 2012 planned meeting.

Proposed International Study Tour for January 2012

The Chairperson said that the 2012 study tour to a country which had a functioning National Health Insurance (NHI) had been allocated the January 2012 slot. Australia and Thailand had been considered. Australia was not available to accommodate Members in January and thus Thailand was considered as the next option.

Members felt that they may not benefit from a tour to Thailand and that a better option would be possibly to postpone the tour to Australia until June 2012. However, there was the risk that the tour may be cancelled if they did not claim the January slot. A Member stated that the House was not in order and had failed to plan correctly.

Some Members felt that although Australia’s NHI was highly developed and much could be learned about their system, including application of their Traditional Medicines Healing in the rural areas, their NHI was not implemented against a background of a developing economy and would not be the ideal destination for the tour. Possibly Chile or Columbia could teach Members more about the challenges associated with introduction of NHI. Members felt that since NHI would be the most important programme of the Members’ term, the Committee researcher and Committee Secretary should furnish them with the relevant documentation on the potential countries they could visit, how those countries had fared with NHI and what the NHI structure was in those countries. The decision on the tour was currently out of the Members’ hands. They also requested that the Chair of Chairs should brief them on the tour budget and exactly which Members would be chosen to attend the tour. They strongly felt that all Members who had regularly participated in the Committee meetings should be given the opportunity to attend the tour. Members rejected the document they were given regarding international study tours, as it was pre 4th term (pre 2009).

The Chairperson said that the relevant documentation would be emailed to Members during the holidays and thereafter the secretary would apply for a telephone conference during which Members could debate the study tour issues. Issues around the Committee Programme for 2012 could also be discussed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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