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2023 Budget Speech A Step Towards Equitable Access To Healthcare

Non-governmental organisation DKMS Africa welcomes the allocation of R809.4 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework to support the provision of and equitable access to healthcare services.

Palesa Mokomele, Head of Community Engagement and Communications at DKMS Africa at DKMS Africa says that nowhere is it more evident that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world[i] than in the health system. “Approximately 71% of the population relies on the state and only 27% is able to afford the cost of private care[ii].”

She explains that while patients who receive social pensions, and disability grants, and who are formally unemployed may receive some hospital health services free of charge, the bulk of state patients are partially subsidised depending on their income. “In-patient chemotherapy treatment starts at around R3,000 per day and radiation reaching up to R27,000 per session – part of which may come from the patient[iii].”

“The cost is even higher for those diagnosed with blood cancers – whose best chance for a cure is a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor – as transplants cost between R1 million and R1.5 million. Again, this is covered by the state and in some instances, patients may need to contribute,” points out Mokomele. “The state currently also does not cover the donor-related costs for stem cell transplants from an unrelated donor which ranges from R120 000 – R1 million.”

“With this in mind, our hopes are that some of the funds will be earmarked to improve access to healthcare and treatment for those living with blood cancer,” she adds.

The 2023 Budget also outlined how Treasury will focus on addressing the accumulated backlog in core health services such as surgery and oncology that were a result of disruptions to routine healthcare services due to the pandemic.

Referring to statistics by the Lancet which reports that Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an under-recognised burden of cancer and substantial failures in its oncology care systems[iv], Mokomele highlights that this focus is a step in the right direction to improve the lives of those living with cancer and needing treatment.

Should you wish to set up an interview or discuss this topic with Mokomele further, she can discuss the below topics:

–        The current inequality South Africans are faced with when it comes to access to blood stem cell transplantations;

–        How the outcomes of the 2023 Budget Speech will positively impact those living with blood cancer who rely on the state;

–        What more can be done to help those living with blood cancer.