South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill into a law on Wednesday to provide equal access to healthcare services and address inequalities in the country.

The president pointed out that this bill is about "efficiency and quality," adding that the provision of healthcare in this country is currently fragmented, unsustainable and unacceptable," SA News reported.

He further explained that health insurance is a commitment to remove all the severe disparities in the healthcare sector, noting that this bill is a vital instrument in tackling poverty. Ramaphosa said that the higher healthcare cost makes the families poorer.

However, this new bill will ensure that the healthcare provided will free up resources in poor families for other essential needs, claiming that NHI will make the healthcare more affordable for the poor people in the society.

"The way healthcare services will be paid for is meant to contain comprehensive healthcare costs and to ensure the available resources are more efficiently used," he added.

According to the president, the government has already started to implement a national quality improvement plan in public and private healthcare facilities. Ramaphosa said he has been witnessing improvement, even in the areas where he never thought there would be an improvement.

Furthermore, he disclosed that the government will be establishing the systems and necessary governance structures to implement the NHI. The president urged South Africans to not fear the new NHI implementation, emphasizing that it will be a gradual implementation and not "an overnight event."

"The NHI is an opportunity to make a break with the inequality and inefficiency that has long characterized our approach to the health of the South African people. Let us work together, in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity, to make the NHI work," he added.

Ramaphosa stressed that there are financial challenges when it comes to NHI implementation. However, he noted that it can be overcome with careful planning, strategic resource allocation and a steadfast commitment to achieving equity.

Last month, the National Department of Health urged South Africans to be careful, especially when flu season is about to hit in winter.