White paper on transformation of the health system in South Africa: hearings

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18 March 1998
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

18 March 1998
Submissions were presented by the following organisations:
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa
Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust
Medical Research Council: UDW
Prior Institute
Women and Human Rights Project

Women and Human Rights Project
Karrisha Pillay presented the Women and Human Rights Project critique on the White Paper in light of international and constitutional human rights jurisprudence. Ms Pillay presented a collaborated effort, including the contribution of the ANC Women's Caucus. She thanked the committee for its transparency. Her organisation would continue in providing submissions and suggestions to address the gaps found.

Ms Pillay noted that health can not be viewed in a vacuum, and that it is very much dependent on access to education. The constitution provides for access to the health care system. It is the obligation of the state to realise the importance of access.

Definitions need to be broader and definitions of health care services where women need to be specifically incorporated. The White Paper needs to go beyond concrete strategies and avoid male bias. There needs to be specific strategies focusing on women's health. A factor of great importance is the issue that women's health should not only be seen as a reproductive function but in totality. Women's low social standing leads to women being vulnerable to health risks. Discrimination needs to be addressed, based on gender, disabilities and deprived conditions. It was urged that the White Paper take into account wider issues such as minimum care obligations.

During question time, Ms Baloyi asked where the "gaps" were and how and where definitions were not clear enough?

Ms Pillay answered by acknowledging that different countries would have different measures of applying definitions. She said that Chapter 8 creates a misconception of women's health and developmental health. Enough stress was not placed on women's issues and health affecting them in all spheres of society.

Dr Nkomo asked Ms Pillay whether this was her personal critique and why she was not addressing the question directly.

Ms Pillay commented that she was answering as a representative of DENOSA and that her comments were more contributory than a critique.

Life Offices Association of SA
Mr Pienaar, Convenor: Health Care Committee presented the Life Offices Association of SA [LOA hereafter] The LOA proposes to be a co-operative partner for finding solutions and collaborating in a consultative process towards the introduction of a health insurance that would be accessible to the community and that would take the age of those individuals involved into account.

Mr Ellis [DP] asked the department whether it would consider incorporating the LOA and its financial advisers.

Dr Nkomo answered that a consultative forum already existed in the sub-committee that addresses the financial aspect of medical schemes. If any specific problem arises the LOA is asked for advice.

Mr Ellis suggested that a task group be established that would look at the financial implications.

Mr Pienaar [LOA] said that there are concerns about the current established working committee. This committee had only met once and the focus was on hospital issues and had never got to financial issues. Therefore specific committees and expertise would have to focus purely on financial solutions to health care delivery.


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