oa South African Health Review - Health policy and legislation
Although the statute books reflect no new health-related Acts passed in 2010-2011, and no important amendments to existing legislation, this period has been marked by a flurry of secondary legislation. Many draft Regulations have been issued in terms of the National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003) and some have been issued in final form. The 2008 National Health Amendment Bill has been allowed to lapse, but a draft Bill which introduces an autonomous Office of Health Standards Compliance was published for comment and then tabled.
The various statutory health councils have also issued new Rules, some of which are still open for comment. However, the slow pace of implementation of the Nursing Act (Act 33 of 2005) is still a problem, not least in relation to the ability of nurses to prescribe and dispense medicines. A final dispensing fee for pharmacists that was acceptable to all parties was published in 2010. However, a number of elements of the medicines pricing landscape are still under consideration, including a cap on the logistics fee and a method for international benchmarking, and the first annual review of the dispensing fee for pharmacists has commenced. Draft regulations to allow for regulation of medical devices and complementary medicines have also been published.
Outside of the health sphere, other legislation such as the Children's Act (Act 38 of 2005) and the Consumer Protection Act (Act 68 of 2008) also impact on healthcare workers. In August 2011 a draft National Environmental Health Policy was released for comment. The major policy focus remains the planned introduction of National Health Insurance, for which a Green Paper was released for comment in August 2011. Although missing many critical details, this draft policy document lays out a pathway to implementation of universal coverage by 2025.
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