Dear Dr Paahla,
Budget cuts, corruption and greed have meant our healthcare system is at breaking point to address existing health issues, let alone COVID-19. We don’t have enough healthcare workers, medication, equipment, or functioning clinics and hospitals. But you have the power to help change this if you act.
We call on you to:
Prove you are serious about corruption
In the wake of the Digital Vibes scandal , prove to us you believe in accountability by publicly calling for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill to remove the position of Minister of Health from having the sole power to appoint the NHI board and committees . The current challenges in our health system have proved that the people of Mzansi urgently need a NHI. The way public and private health sectors worked together during COVID-19 gave us a small window into the potential of a NHI that works for the people. But it also exposed important lessons, including the need for transparency . You should also outline plans to tackle corruption, corporate capture and maladministration.
Ensure we have enough healthcare workers, medication and facilities
In the Eastern Cape, 2,700 community health workers could lose their jobs , and Charlotte Maxeke Hospital has still not been fixed . These a just two examples of the crisis facing our healthcare system. You can use your position as a member of cabinet to demand a budget that increases social spending by increasing taxes on the rich and on products that harm people's health, such as sugary drinks, alcohol, and tobacco. Vaping (e-cigarettes) should be taxed the same as tobacco.
Help protect us from products that can make us sick
It’s time to ban smoking in public and regulate e-cigarettes by passing the long-overdue Tobacco Bill. It’s also time to force not only cigarette companies but also food companies to put effective warning labels on their products so we know what they can do to our health. We need strong Front of Pack Labeling and call on you to publish the regulation for public comment.
There is already a strong public mandate for these demands. In late 2019, over 170,000 people submitted public comments calling for a NHI that works for the people, not the greedy. amandla.mobi launched this campaign to make sure the voices of those who need access to quality health care the most were heard loud and clear during the public comment process. Especially low-income Black women. View the campaign here: https://awethu.amandla.mobi/p/nhi
 SIU probe into government’s R14.3bn Covid-19 spending finds thousands of irregular contracts. Ethan van Diemen for Daily Maverick. 25 Jan 2022
 Submission to The Portfolio Committee on Health on The National Health Insurance Bill B11. Motlatsi Komote for The Dullah Omar Institute. 29 November 2019
 Essman M, Taillie LS, Frank T, Ng SW, Popkin BM, Swart EC (2021) Taxed and untaxed beverage intake by South African young adults after a national sugar-sweetened beverage tax: A before-and-after study. PLoS Med 18(5): e1003574. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003574
 Eastern Cape community health workers protest about job cuts. Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik for Groundup. 18 Jan 2022
 Months after fire, it’s still not clear when CMAH will be fully operational again. Kgomotso Modise for EWN. 2022 Jan 07