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Medical Technology SA (MTSA) is the official journal of the Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists of South Africa (SMLTSA).

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Medical Technology SA December 2017 cover

LATEST ISSUE
Volume 31 | Number 2 | December 2017
ISSN (online): 1011 5528
Editor: Warren Maule


EDITORIAL

Frighteningly, yet another year has come and gone.

I take this opportunity to wish all our readers a joyous, peaceful and productive 2018. May it be a year when all your dreams and aspirations come true and where once again Biomedical Science comes to the fore, through the publication of many more articles in what is after all: ‘your journal’.

There can be no doubt that 2017 will be remembered as probably the most eventful year in modern history. From: Donald Trump and North Korea, Jacob Zuma and State Capture and commitments by the current government of South Africa to offer free higher education for the poor and middle income groups, as well as policies to change the overburdened health care system.  
In this editorial I am going to focus on the latter with an overview on the ‘all new’ proposed NHI system and its ramifications. Note, phase 2 of the process was implemented in 2017, ‘or was it’?

Healthcare

South Africa’s commitment to re-engineering the health care system has been driven by the country’s quadruple burden of disease, which has been fuelled by a range of risk factors including: unsafe sex and sexually transmitted infections,[1] interpersonal violence (especially against women and children) and alcohol abuse,[2] poor diets[3] and maternal and childhood malnutrition.[4,5]

National Health Act

National Health Insurance (NHI)

The key policy and legislative issue facing South Africa remains the effort to ensure universal health coverage for all its population through NHI. The White Paper published in December 2015 envisaged a three-phase process of implementation over a 14-year period.[6] The first of these was intended to last five years, from 2012/2013 to 2016/2017, and to focus on strengthening the public health sector, but also implementing key enablers such as the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC)

Phase 2,

This started in 2017and was intended to enable the registration of the population and to create a transitional NHI Fund. The Department of Health Annual Performance Plan 2016/17–2018/19 suggested that key policy initiatives should be introduced. These would facilitate the implementation of NHI, highlighting the need to develop systems and processes for the NHI Fund, such as provider payment systems, patient registration systems health provider registration systems and fraud and risk mitigation.[7] It was expected that some amendments to the Medical Schemes Act would be necessary. However, to date, no details of such amendments have been released. Also no radical redesign of the Health Professions Council of South Africa seems likely.  
There can little doubt that the implementation of the NHI scheme will place pathology services under increased pressure. Improvement of access to healthcare will increase demand for diagnostic testing, both for clinical diagnosis in disease states and for screening of healthy people
Furthermore, developments in new tests and the introduction of new technology in laboratory medicine will increase the overall costs.[8]

The expected input from the Treasury on the financing options for NHI has also not been issued. However, in his 2017 Budget Speech, the then Minister of Finance indicated that clarity would be provided later in the year.[9] Not sure if that clarity has been provided as yet? The government seemed to have more pressing issues. I.E., a new Minister of Finance, State Capture and seeking an injunction on further publications of ‘The Presidents Keepers’ to name just three. The same Minister of Finance also provided an insight into the potential scope of the NHI Fund, noting that the initial focus would be to: ‘improve access to a common set of maternal health and antenatal services family planning services, expand the integrated school health programmes, including provision of spectacles and hearing aids and improve services for people with disabilities, the elderly and mentally ill patients, including provision of wheelchairs and other assistive devices’.[9]

I conclude with a question for you, our readers:

Is the process of introducing NHI contested and is the legislative component
poorly developed?

The team are excited to welcome you to the Medical Technology Journal SA (MTJSA) and hope you enjoy the content. We would once again welcome and encourage letters to the editor striking up conversation, debate or comments on relevant Biomedical Technology topics.

In this current edition there is again a diverse range of articles empahsising topics such as:

  1. EVIDENCE OF IMMUNE STIMULATION FOLLOWING SHORT-TERM EXPOSURE TO SPECIFIC EXTREMELY LOW-FREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS
  2. MAPPING PHASE - HEALTH TECHNOLOGY IN SOUTH AFRICA: OPTIMISING IN-VITRO DIAGNOSTIC DEVICE MANAGEMENT
  3. VARIOUS DIMENSIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PASS RATES FOR INTERN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGISTS THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE NATIONAL BOARD EXAMINATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA
  4. PRACTITIONER ETHICS, MEDICAL SCHEMES AND FRAUD IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN PRIVATE HEALTHCARE SECTOR

Warren Maule,
Editor in Chief.

References:

  1. Scheibe A, Richter M, Vearey J. Sex work and South Africa’s health system: addressing the needs of the underserved. In: Padarath A, King J, Mackie E, Casciola J, editors. South African Health Review 2016. Durban: Health Systems Trust; 2016.
  2. Corrigal J, Matzopoulus R. Violence, alcohol misuse and mental health: gaps in the health system response. In: Padarath A, English R, editors. South African Health Review 2012/13. Durban: Health Systems Trust; 2013.
  3. Diet-related non communicable diseases in South Africa: determinants and policy responses. In Padarath A, King J, Mackie E, Casciola J, editors. South African Health Review 2016. Durban: Health Systems Trust; 2016.
  4. Bamford L. Maternal, newborn and child health. In: Padarath A, English R, editors. South African Health Review 2012/13. Durban: Health Systems Trust; 2013.
  5. Du Plessis L, Peer N, Honkiman S, English R. Breastfeeding in South Africa: are we making progress? In: Padarath A, King J, Mackie E, Casciola J, editors. South African Health Review 2016. Durban: Health Systems Trust; 2016.
  6. Minister of Health. White Paper on National Health Insurance.  Government Notice No. 1230, Government Gazette No. 39506, 11 December 2015.
    URL: http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/39506_ gon1230.pdf
  7. Department of Health. Annual Performance Plan 2016/17–2018/19.
    URL: http://www.health.gov.za/index.php/2014-03-17-09-09-38/strategic-documents/category/266-2016- str?download=1234:app-inside-2016-8-march-2016-lowres
  8. T.S. Pillay, Containing costs in the era of National Health Insurance – the need for and importance of demand management in laboratory medicine. SAMJ, Vol 103, No 1 2013.
  9. Minister of Finance. Budget Speech 2017, 22 February 2017. URL: http://www.gov.za/SPEECHES/MINISTER-PRAVINGORDHAN-2017-BUDGET-SPEECH-22-FEB-2017-0000
 

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Editorial Board

Editor-in-chief: Warren Maule
tel: +27 (0)11 559 6265
warrenm@uj.ac.za
Assistant editor-in-chief: Prof Glenda Davison
tel: +27 (0)21 959 6034
davisong@cput.ac.za
Editorial Board: Prof Tandi Marsha (CPUT HOD)
Prof Kathy Meehan (Abu Dabi)
Prof Angelo Nicolaides (UNISA)
Prof J I Phillips (NIOH and UJ)

 

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