The passage of the National Health Insurance Bill has been a hot topic of discussion for the Portfolio Committee for Health in Parliament. Many have hailed the NHI scheme as a step towards inclusivity and the progressive realization of Section 27 of the Bill of Rights. However, concerns have been raised about the exclusion of Traditional African Medicine (TAM) from the universal NHI.
TAM is the health modality most utilized and accessible to 80% of the South African population. Unfortunately, it has been sidelined and excluded from being recognized under the NHI. This exclusion has echoes of the colonial and apartheid healthcare systems which similarly disregarded TAM.
Despite its exclusion, advocates for TAM are rallying behind it, citing its effectiveness in treating a range of ailments and its cultural significance to many South Africans. Some experts argue that the NHI should be inclusive of TAM to truly serve the needs of the majority of the population.
As the Portfolio Committee for Health concludes their deliberations, the future of TAM in a formalised healthcare framework South Africa remains uncertain.
Will the NHI scheme be truly inclusive, or will it continue to perpetuate the exclusion of traditional healthcare practices? Only time will tell.
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