Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi presents his department’s annual report in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Primary healthcare will be “the heartbeat” of South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI), Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told MPs on Wednesday afternoon as he tabled his department’s annual report for the year to March 31 in Parliament.

His comments hinted at the contents of the long-awaited White Paper on NHI, which he said would emphasise preventing disease by re-engineering the country’s primary healthcare services.

“We think it is the only thing that will save NHI, that will make it sustainable,” he said, explaining that a health system that prioritised “curative” services in hospitals would be much more costly.

The Department of Health published its Green Paper on NHI more than two years ago, in August 2011.

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe gave the department a clean audit for the 2012-13 financial year, but drew attention to its continued failure to implement proper systems for monitoring conditional grants.

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