UHC news from the Global Network for Health Equity

Check out the new website of GNHE (pronounced ‘Gini,’ as in the Gini Coefficient) and follow GNHE on twitter @GNHE2015.

GHNE is a network of research institutions from Latin America, Africa and Asia, and we’ve prepared analyses of progress towards universal health coverage in 15 countries so far.

Also read our recommendations on practical ways countries can measure access and financial protection on their path to universal health coverage.

NHI Snippets (1): Where do I start?

National Health Insurance in South Africa:  Where do I start? 

“Start with something sensational,” said a friend, “otherwise no-one will read your blog.” 

The trouble is, though, that National Health Insurance is a complex concept.  It’s hard to explain and it’s hard to tease out all the arguments underlying the way it has been conceptualised. 

So I think this blog needs an audience that is willing to put an effort into understanding NHI, whether or not I write sensationally.  Let me put my faith in you …


To start, then, I think there are two basic facts about the South African health system that we need to know to gain some perspective on the NHI debate:

Fact 1: 

South Africa channels as much money through medical schemes as it gives in taxes to health care services.1  There is no other country in the world that relies to such an extent on private health insurance.2 

Fact 2:

The health of the average South African is poor relative to the wealth of the country.  South Africa is an outlier on graphs that compare the health indicators of countries against their GDP per capita.3

The poor performance of both the public and private health care sectors lies behind these two facts.  It is this that has driven the development of the NHI proposal.


P.S.  Don’t worry if you don’t understand the term ‘National Health Insurance’ or what the South African government is currently proposing.  I will deal with this in later posts.




1.  McIntyre DE, Doherty JE, Ataguba JE. (forthcoming). Health care financing and expenditure – progress since 1994 and remaining challenges. Health and health care in South Africa (2nd edition). Van Rensburg H. Pretoria: van Schaik Publishers.

2.  Drechsler D, Jutting J. (2005). Is there a role for private health insurance in developing countries?  Berlin:  German Institute for Economic Research.

3.  Langenbrunner J. (2011).  Presentation to National Health Insurance Conference:  Lessons for South Africa, 7-8 December 2011,  Gallagher Estate, Midrand, South Africa

Launching my blog, Health Policy South Africa

It’s February 2011:  I’ve just started setting up my blog, Health Policy South Africa.  I hope this site becomes a place to share and debate research relevant to South African health policy.  Read the pages on the right-hand-side of the page to find out more about me and this blog … and write a comment to let me know what you think!