Students discovered that 53% of East Lynne clinic health workers in Gauteng had limited knowledge of the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot. The workers knew what the NHI stands for and its basic aim to standardise health care for all South Africans, but the rest was yet to be discovered.
Young bright minds in South Africa (SA) are contributing to the body of knowledge that informs policy making. Deane Dubber, a student from the University of Pretoria (UP), presented his and his peer’s study titled, What do healthcare workers know about the NHI Pilot? The study, conducted by himself, Bronwyn Krause, Janique Kruger, Wilhelm Herbst, Robyn Herselman, Annalie Strydom and supervised by Dr M Shabangu was done in May 2013.
He presented the study on behalf of his research team at the first student symposium hosted by the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), in collaboration with the African Federation of Public Health Associations (AFPHA), in Cape Town on the 24th of September 2013.
Dubber and his team undertook the research at the East Lynne Clinic in Gauteng. According to Dubber, East Lynne clinic has roughly 30 health workers and 22 were questioned for the study. The students aimed to establish the healthcare workers knowledge on the NHI pilot and the impact it would have on the workers and their role in society. Additionally, the study worked towards finding out how healthcare workers gained knowledge about the pilot.
The study also examined whether the NHI pilot would benefit the community. Furthermore, the study attempted to forecast the positive and negative residual effects on the private and public health sectors. Most importantly, the researchers directed their efforts to discovering what the impact of the NHI would be on the quality of patient treatment.
Nurses, doctors, general health care workers, counsellors, pharmacy assistants and dieticians were questioned. The study found that 10% had not heard of the NHI, 37% had extensive knowledge of the NHI, and 53% had limited knowledge of the NHI. 15.8% felt it would negatively affect their role in society. Moreover, 64% believed it would have a positive impact on the public health sector, but 88% felt it would negatively impact the private health sector.
Each of the 22 East Lynne clinic health workers were asked to rate, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being unsuccessful and 10 being very successful) how successful they thought the NHI pilot would be. A total of 18% of the staff thought the pilot would be unsuccessful while 36% said it would be successful giving ratings of between 7 -8.
The study showed that the people with extensive knowledge gave lower ratings for the successfulness that the NHI pilot would have and those with limited knowledge gave higher ratings and felt that it would be successful. “I do not think that just one clinic can determine how much healthcare workers know about this matter, but it has already given a good idea,” said Dubber.
The researchers recommended that informative workshops or seminars at clinics could be held monthly or quarterly. “The recommendations section of the study is intended for the Department of Health (DoH),” said Dubber. Furthermore, pamphlets could be distributed in the community, courses could be considered to improve education of the health care workers. Similarly, regular meetings to encourage debates and open discussions could be held to improve insight. Lastly, articles could be published in newspapers.
According to the 2012/13 South African Health Review, in the first five years the DoH will work on human resource planning, development, information management and system support (1). Although Dubber and his peer’s study has not been reviewed, it helps the DoH survey for facilities needing resources and assistance to reengineer the public sector.
Dr Flavia Senkubuge, a medical doctor and the vice president of PHASA who specialises in health policy and management at the school of Health Systems and Public Health at UP commented. She confirmed the student’s findings are passed on to the relevant stakeholders at the DoH and the facility. “We work with the DoH and share the results with the managers of the clinic and DoH at a symposium where the students make a presentation of their findings,” said Dr Senkubuge.
Dubber was one of many promising, youthful and spirited medical students who attended and presented research at the 9th PHASA conference in 2013. In addition, he was elected as the 2014 Campus Coordinator for the Junior Public Health Association of South Africa (JuPHASA). 20 year old, Deane Dubber is studying a six-year degree at UP, to become a medical doctor. He is currently in his second year and has already completed his first research study into the potential challenges for the emerging NHI. Dubber is aware that he still has a lot to experience but said, “If I had to choose a speciality now, it would be trauma surgery.”
He said, “I believe the South African healthcare system is rich with possibilities and opportunities, but only if it is managed properly, efficiently and most of all, truthfully.
Up until recently, Dubber had been aspiring to work in the private sector and abroad. But he said, “PHASA has exposed me to an entirely new world with regards to health care and future possibilities.”
This year, at the 10th PHASA conference to be held in Limpopo, once again the JuPHASA Student Symposium will be held on 6 September 2014. Students from across South Africa and the region will congregate and share their research findings. Don’t miss out on the student symposium, a fantastic opportunity to share your insights, network and have fun while making a difference!
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