PRIVATE SPENDING OUTSTRIPS PUBLIC SPENDING IN SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH SYSTEM
Although South Africa has one of highest rates of spending on healthcare in the world, as a percentage of GDP, recent reports indicate that 60% of funding goes towards private healthcare, which is used by only 15% of the population.
South Africa's total health expenditure is estimated by the country's National Treasury to be approximately ZAR114bn (US$17.93bn) -- 8.2% of GDP. Out of a list of 20 similar countries South Africa is beaten only by Argentina, which spends 9.5% of its GDP on health.
However, only ZAR47.5bn (US$7.46bn) was spent on public health service in the 2004/2005 financial year. The disparity is partly explained by the fact that private healthcare has apparent "high input costs" caused by factors such as expensive high-cost equipment. Private insurance premiums in the country are continuing to grow although the proportion of the population using them remains the same, indicating an increase in the cost of the service.
The most pressing health concern in the country remains the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Government spending on HIV/AIDS treatment programmes in the provinces has increased rapidly over the last few years. In 2001/2002 it stood at ZAR37mn (US$5.82mn), while in 2004/2005 it had risen to ZAR770mn (US$121.08mn). By 2007/2008, this figure is forecast to reach ZAR1.6bn (US$251.54mn).