Load shedding in South Africa brings heavy diesel costs to public healthcare system

South Africa’s ongoing power crisis has been revealed to have cost state-run hospitals R685 million in diesel costs, according to a written question asked by FF Plus health spokesperson and MP Philip van Staden. Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla indicated in his response that the country’s public healthcare infrastructure has had to resort to high fuel costs to continue operating normally amid the ongoing Eskom crisis. This follows an oral question session in Parliament where the minister failed to provide a response. In light of the significant financial implications of the ongoing load shedding issue, Van Staden believes it is not the right time to introduce the National Health Insurance bill.

Rising diesel costs impact the South Africa’s healthcare sector

State-run hospitals in South Africa are facing a financial burden from load shedding that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. According to a written question posed by FF Plus health spokesperson and MP Philip van Staden, South African state hospitals have spent nearly R685 million on diesel fueling generators over the last 11 months since April 1, 2022. The Health Minister, Dr. Joe Phaahla responded via written question after being unable to provide a satisfactory response in the Parliament’s oral question session. The fuel prices are believed to be the result of the ongoing Eskom crisis which has left many institutions with no option but to find alternative sources of electricity to provide healthcare services. The rising fuel costs have only exacerbated South Africa’s public health-care system’s already overburdened state.

Delaying NHI Bill adoption for now

Van Staden, whose question prompted the revelation, said the time has not yet come for adoption of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, as the country still grapples with significant challenges in the healthcare sector. He pointed out that the recent fuel expenses incurred have only served to compound the country’s already overburdened public health system. With some 76 hospitals and clinics out of a total of 213 currently exempted from load shedding, South Africa’s ongoing power crisis could be further exacerbated by the winter months already knocking on the door. As such, the NHI should be shelved until the healthcare sector has stabilised and can function effectively. The year’s forthcoming elections afford South Africans the perfect opportunity to oust the ANC government from power, according to van Staden, as the administration appears to be mismanaging the country’s power crisis and leaving its citizens with astronomical costs.

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This story was first published on the IOL Website, read it here.