The Breakfast Series session on Access to Health, organized as part of a series of breakfast sessions planned by Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration, DR Pilane Majake, brought together key stakeholders to acknowledge the challenges still prevalent in the country’s health system while also celebrating the achievements made over the past three decades of freedom.

The event, held on Friday morning, 26 April 2024, saw the participation of guests, including Dr Phophi Ramathuba and Ms Nobantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, the Members of the Executive Council (MEC) responsible for health in the provinces of Limpopo and Gauteng, respectively. Additionally, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the Deputy Minister of Health, provided an update on the National Health Insurance System (NHIS). Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, the Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, was also in attendance.

It aimed to foster collective action and promote a holistic approach to improving healthcare services in South Africa by featuring presentations from diverse voices. Participants included representatives from health sector labour unions, the Government Employees Medical Scheme, represented by Dr Nomzamo Tutu, and public servants in the health sector.

Reflecting on the progress made, Mr Simon Hlungwane, President of the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), acknowledged the achievements of the NHIS, emphasizing its role in ensuring universal access to health for all South Africans, irrespective of race or income status. However, he also highlighted the strain on the health system due to a shortage of professionals, calling for an increase in the number of health professionals to ensure the success of the NHIS.

The Breakfast Session was also planned to celebrate the exemplary commitment of the multi-governmental rescue mission led by the Department of Health, recalling the daring evacuation of 120 citizens, including students, from Wuhan, the then epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time. The Deputy Minister expressed gratitude and encouraged future generations to follow in the footsteps of those involved in the mission.

Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who played a pivotal role in welcoming the evacuated South Africans back into the country and reuniting them with their families, shared valuable insights and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic during the session.

The Breakfast on Access to Health concluded with a resounding call for stakeholder collaboration to address the health system’s challenges. The participants committed to working towards achieving universal health coverage in South Africa, underscoring the importance of collective efforts in realizing this goal.