Read RHAP’s full submission on the 2019 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement here.
An investment in health is an investment in people. Health is not just about treating disease. Good health is an enabler. Therefore, RHAP is particularly concerned that the revenue raising proposals in this year’s MTBPS and harsh austerity measures in the form of expenditure cuts will exacerbate poverty and inequality and retard job creation and economic growth. It is noted that the worsening fiscal position is threatening government’s ability to maintain existing levels of service provision and infrastructure investment. After debt-service costs, health is the fastest growing area of spending at a time when reductions in spending are being made. The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement indicated that the average nominal growth in spending in health over the medium term is 7%. Despite the
tough economic and fiscal circumstances, the increase in health care spending offers some opportunities. Health spending has a role to play as a catalyst for inclusive growth. Ensuring that South Africans are healthy means that as a nation we will be better placed to participate in the
global economy and prosper. The health sector can be a pathway to employment for youth.
This submission’s contribution is to advance that investing in health and social infrastructure can offer short-term stabilisation and long-term growth. While RHAP has taken note of what Treasury has indicated about the National Health Insurance costing, the policy discussions remain underway. The transition to universal healthcare, government will be investing a significant amount of money in health spending to roll out the National Health Insurance. To manage the transition to universal healthcare, government needs to focus its spending efforts on improving existing facilities and the services offered there. If the transition is managed well, the additional investment can be used to stimulate employment and particularly youth and women’s employment in rural areas. This submission offers practical recommendations for how, in the tight fiscal space that exists, the health sector can be an enabler of economic growth. It also offers recommendations for rural-proofing the health budget and ensuring that it is gender-responsive.