‘I found my pen’: Ramaphosa officially signs NHI Bill into law

President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the NHI into law at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela / IOL

President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the NHI into law at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela / IOL

Published May 15, 2024

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Wednesday officially signed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law - a move he says will ensure that citizens receive equal healthcare services.

The signing ceremony took place at the Union Buildings’ west wing courtyard in Pretoria on Wednesday afternoon.

This comes after five years of heated debates and public hearings over the authorisation of the bill. The bill was tabled in 2019.

Millions of patients, the elderly, disadvantaged, as well as veterans will benefit from the newly authorised health insurance system, as the bill stated.

Addressing the media, Ramaphosa said the signing of the bill was a pivotal moment in the history of the country, leading it to a much better South Africa.

“In signing this Bill, we are signalling our determination to advance the constitutional right to access healthcare as articulated in Section 27 of the Constitution.

“The motion of the Bill sets the foundation for ending a parallel inequitable health system where those without means are relegated to poor healthcare,” he said.

He said this transformation is a commitment to eradicate the inequality of the healthcare system in the country, adding that no citizen must endure pain while seeking healthcare.

According to the president, the bill will achieve universal coverage for health services and is critical to overcoming critical socio-economic imbalances and inequities of the past.

In signing the bill, Ramaphosa said they were preaching the same message as Section 27 of the Constitution.

Section 27 (1)(a) states that “Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care.”

It continues to say “No one may be refused emergency medical treatment.”

Ramaphosa further urged people not to fear the NHI, stating that through health insurance, government has plans to improve the effectiveness of healthcare provision by requiring all health facilities to achieve minimum quality health standards.

He said they wanted to make the lives of the people better.