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South Africa: Health Minister Meets National Health Laboratory Services to Discuss New Funding Model
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, April 25, 2014
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: South Africa
Created: Apr 25, 2014

Minister Motsoaledi said on Thursday he wanted to stop that possibility at all costs to ensure the gains that have been made in fighting HIV and Aids and TB were not reversed.

The NHLS provides screening for HIV and TB patients, diagnostic laboratory services, research and the production of sera for anti-snake venom. Divisions of the NHLS include the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Institute for Occupational Health, National Cancer Registry, and the SA Vaccine Producers.

The minister explained that the meeting had discussed changes to the NHLS funding structure following the announcement by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget Speech, in February, that there would be a new funding framework for the NHLS and associated research activities.

“The issues stem from the manner in which the NHLS functions. We are going to find a new financing model for NHLS,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

Currently the National Treasury allocates money to the Department Health, which transfers funds to the provincial Treasuries, which in turn pays the NHLS. Then the NHLS bills the provincial Departments of Health for services rendered. Minister Motsoaledi said National Treasury should rather allocate a budget to the NHLS directly.

Under the current model there was room for health departments and the NHLS to squabble over differences in billing. “The funding model will no longer depend on a squabble between the provinces and the NHLS.”
He said there was a need to ensure that the same problems did not arise time and again.

“Today’s meeting is about ensuring that these types of problems never occur again. The board has accepted that as minister, I can’t allow the CEO to say that we are going to stop services - that cannot happen,” said the minister.
The minister added that it would be dangerous for testing of TB patients to be stopped as it would mean patients would go untreated. This would pose the risk of infecting others and experiencing drug-resistant TB which is more expensive to treat in the long run.

Last week, the Gauteng Health Department paid the NHLS R77 million and is due to pay R123 million in the first week of April.
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