Health-market inquiry move a blow to Aaron Motsoaledi

Health-market inquiry move a blow to Aaron Motsoaledi

By Tamar Kahn, 31 March 2017,

**The article below erroneously refers to “the now former health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.” Minister Motsoaledi is still Minister of Heath.

World Health Organisation report dismissed because it failed to provide the underlying data.

The Competition Commission’s health-market inquiry would not accept a controversial report on private hospital prices commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because it failed to provide the underlying data, it announced on Thursday.

The move not only asserts the inquiry’s commitment to evidence-based analysis, but would have dealt a blow to the now former health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who has publicly promoted the report as it supports his conviction that private healthcare services are overpriced.

The inquiry was formed to establish whether there are barriers to competition and access to the private healthcare market. When it began public hearings, the WHO submitted a report that it had commissioned from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which found South African private healthcare prices were similar to those in OECD countries, but were much less affordable. Private hospital groups subsequently challenged the report and made submissions to the inquiry.

The inquiry’s director, Clint Oellermann, said the WHO had said confidentiality agreements with the stakeholders who provided data prevented them from providing the information to the inquiry. “Without the underlying data the [inquiry] cannot place any significant weight or evidential value on [the report] in arriving at its provisional and final findings.”

The inquiry might conduct its own analysis of hospital prices based on the evidence it received, Oellermann said.

The WHO’s senior health policy adviser for Africa, Sarah Barber, said the inquiry could request the information from the participating countries directly.

Lobby group Section 27 said the inquiry’s decision indicated the weight it attached to evidence-based decision-making.

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