Gauteng Health Department

Stock photo of a hospital corridor – Image: Canva

Gauteng ‘could ask embassies’ to pay for hospital bills of foreign nationals

The DA has shared a contentious proposal, which would seek to charge embassies for the treatment of foreigners in Gauteng hospitals.

Gauteng Health Department

Stock photo of a hospital corridor – Image: Canva

It’s a controversial suggestion, but according to Gauteng’s Shadow Health MEC, it’s one that has been in the pipeline previously. Jack Bloom is now leading the charge for hospitals in the province to start billing embassies for the treatment of foreign nationals in local medical facilities.

Should embassies foot the bill for foreign nationals seeking hospital treatment in Gauteng?

The DA representative has been riled by a recent viral video, which captured a pregnant woman having to sleep on the floor of a hospital in Johannesburg. The overcrowding has been attributed to a rise in foreign patients, and the situation has now reached something of a nadir.

  • Previously, the Gauteng Health Department *did* raise the possibility of billing foreign embassies.
  • Bloom is set to raise this question in the Provincial Legislature, asking if the measures are still on the table.
  • It has also been claimed that ‘many women surrounding countries’ are entering SA just to give birth.
  • Figures from the DA estimate that 25% of all births in Gauteng hospitals ‘are to foreign nationals’.

Province ‘overwhelmed’ by high patient numbers

Of course, deciding to bill embassies for the treatment of foreign nationals wouldn’t be without controversy. After all, access to healthcare is seen as a universal human right – and doctors can’t pick and choose who they attend to.

However, with hospital facilities seemingly at breaking point across Gauteng, the DA are looking at ways to ease the financial burden on the health department. This contentious issue is likely to rumble on for a while…

“Foreign embassies should be billed for patients from their countries who are treated in Gauteng hospitals – this is a practical way to deal with the issue of foreign patients overburdening facilities, as seen in the video of pregnant women sleeping on the floor at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg.”

“Some years ago the Gauteng Health Department claimed that they were going to bill foreign embassies but nothing seems to have come from this. While most foreign patients live in South Africa, there are many cases where pregnant women from surrounding countries come to a South African hospital specifically to give birth.”

Jack Bloom