“I, as a Pharmacy Professional, support NHI [National Health Insurance].” This was the pledge sent out by the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) to pharmacists across the country on Monday, asking them to sign it by 25 October.
The email was signed by SAPC CEO Amos Masango.
In a statement published on Wednesday afternoon to explain the email, the SAPC said that the request for pledges of support for the NHI was made by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize at the third National Pharmacy Conference on 4 October in North West.
“This request was not prescriptive and did not detail any consequences which will follow if the
pledge is not signed,” said the SAPC statement. Yet nothing in the email makes it clear that the pledge is not prescriptive.
“Pharmacy professionals are aware that, as citizens of this country, they have a constitutional right to participate in the consultation processes of the NHI without undue influence from anyone, including ourselves as a statutory council. As the proceedings of the National Pharmacy Conference were not recorded appropriately for the NHI public participation process, the Minister requested pledges from delegates who attended the conference
and were in support of the NHI,” read the SAPC statement.
Local pharmacists told GroundUp that they are discouraged from speaking on political issues by the Independent Community Pharmacist Association (ICPA). Comment from the ICPA is pending.
“The Clicks Group is supportive of the concept of universal healthcare and access for vulnerable communities. It is however too early to pass further comment until further details on NHI become available. Clicks has the largest retail pharmacy footprint and United Pharmaceutical Distributors [a division of Clicks] is the country’s largest pharmaceutical wholesaler. So the Group is well positioned to support NHI,” said Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks Chief Commercial Officer.
The National Health Insurance Bill was introduced to the National Assembly in August and is busy proceeding through Parliament.
Despite several attempts, the Department of Health was unavailable for comment.
The full text of the email sent by the SAPC is below:
Dear Pharmacy Professional,
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, at the recent 3rd National Pharmacy Conference on 3-5 October 2019, requested the pharmacy profession to sign pledges of support to the NHI.
Please complete the attachment to this email with the words, “I, as a Pharmacy Professional, support the NHI” and email/fax to the registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 October 2019.
UPDATE on 16 October 2019, 19:35: At the request of the SAPC, the original comments attributed to one of their employees have been replaced by the statement released on Wednesday afternoon.