– South Africa’s health sector accounts for 12% of public spending, and it’s the third-fastest growing expenditure item in the budget, said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS). 

Health sector budgets in general, Gordhan said, are under pressure due to compensation costs, rising utilisation of public health services, higher import prices of medicines as a result of the weak rand, and sector priorities that require additional funding. 

“Spending increases in health is mainly to support the expansion of the HIV/Aids programme,” Gordhan said, “in particular antiretroviral treatment, which now reaches 3.5 million people in South Africa”. 

He expected a significant increase in antiretroviral therapy with the implementation of universal test-and-treat (treatment initiation in all age groups regardless of CD4 count) that took place in September of this year. 

Currently 90% of people living with HIV/Aids know their status, while 90% of those who know their status have been introduced to antiretroviral therapy. 

Spending on health in the 2016/17 budget amounts to R169.3bn, and increases to R184.4bn in 2017/18. In the 2018/19 budget it will climb to R198.9bn and to R214.2 in 2019/20, representing an 8.2% growth over the medium term.