French Day at the University of Pretoria: Lessons to be learnt from the French government regarding South Africa

Posted on October 03, 2012

From 16 August to 25 September 2012, eight of South Africa’s top universities, including the University of Pretoria, hosted a French Day to highlight scientific collaborations between South Africa and France, and to promote future cooperation and student exchanges between the two countries.

Mr Pierre Lemonde, the Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in South Africa, pointed out that France is South Africa’s fifth biggest scientific partner. He added that the collaboration between the two countries has seen significant growth in recent years, and that “Franco-South African scientific collaboration encompasses many fields among which the most prominent are paleontology, astronomy, the humanities, medical sciences, agriculture and oceanography”.

The University of Pretoria’s French Day activities included a seminar on South Africa’s new National Health Insurance (NHI) concept, which had been organised with a view to learning more about the French Social Health Insurance System, which is considered to be the best of its kind in the world.

The panel that explored different elements of the French health system included the South African Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, and several high-level speakers from France. An overview of the French health system was provided and the financing of healthcare in that country was also discussed.

The South African government has published a plan for the NHI, which aims to provide good healthcare for all by sharing the money available for healthcare fairly among all citizens. This health plan is designed to enable every person in South Africa to receive good quality healthcare to ensure a healthier nation.

The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Eric Buch, said that although the policy decision regarding a National Health Insurance system for South Africa has been made, the details still need to be defined. He emphasised the need for South Africa to learn from global experiences in the field of healthcare in order to find a system that will suit the unique South African circumstances.

Dr Ramokgopa mentioned that the National Health Insurance system in South Africa has been on the cards since 1994, and that serious consideration has been given to a policy direction and details regarding policy choices since 2009. She also reiterated that although a Green Paper on the NHI policy choices has been compiled, based mainly on inputs from the public, the details still have to be refined.

Dr Ramokgopa thanked the University of Pretoria for involving the various stakeholders in dialogue on the NHI and said, “We hope that by the time the White Paper is implemented, both the public and the private sectors will agree that we have chosen the best model for South Africa’s NHI”.

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