The South African Government is considering to start charging countries whose citizens access health services for free in South Africa.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla disclosed this after visiting Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital where members of Operation Dudula blocked gates to bar foreign nationals from accessing health services.
South Africa newspaper, Sowetanlive, reports that Phaahla told the protesters that the department is consulting with governments from neighbouring countries to see how they can contribute to the medical bills of immigrants in South Africa.
The minister said the government would engage with countries whose citizens come to South Africa for treatment about compensation.
“There have been suggestions and acknowledgment that the issue of additional services from neighbours does add additional pressure and that we must find ways to deal with it, including possibilities of contributions for some of the services by the governments of the neighbouring countries,” said Phaahla.
He argued that every government has a responsibility to its citizens so South Africa need to hold them accountable for their responsibility.
“If South Africans go to Namibia to seek help, the Namibian government must hold us accountable. If, for instance, we are unable to provide renal dialysis and people are flocking to Namibia to get renal dialysis, they must hold us accountable and say: ‘We’ve got your people here who need dialysis. We can provide it but what are you going to do to compensate?’ These are the things we need to put into regulation,” the minister said.
He added that some issues go beyond funding and resources as language barriers between migrant patients and health workers delay treatment.
Phaahla said the government would ask embassies to assist so that healthcare happens efficiently.
Phaahla, however, condemned the protests saying they were unwarranted.
“Our constitution is clear. The state must do everything possible to ensure that the people who live in SA have access to health services,” he said.
He added that the challenges of South Africa’s healthcare system cannot be blamed on foreigners as there are other factors such as poor management, maladministration, staff shortages, and corruption weaken the public health sector.
Members of Operation Dudula have allegedly been stopping and screening patients seeking to enter the Hospital. The Dudula members were turning away patients suspected of being foreigners based on appearance and skin-tone, the Sowetan reported.
Demonstrators were standing outside the hospital entrance, one with a loudspeaker, as they informed those approaching that illegal foreigners would not be allowed inside.
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