By Bianca Silva
At the end of last year Rhodes University refused Netcare’s offer to provide students with emergency care which would include 24-hour emergency medical care and inter-facility transfers. These services would be provided at a blanket charge which would mean that every student would be able to benefit from them at a compulsory charge of R5 each per month. The University’s reasoning for refusing this offer was that they couldn’t charge every student R5, as they may not use it. While I agree that the University should not make us pay for things we will not use, health care is surely important enough that we should at least seriously consider that offer? The University has clearly recognised the importance of healthcare as foreign students are required to have medical aid in order to register as a student.
Now, I’m not sure I understand this reasoning but, as far as I understand, each oppidan student is charged R107. This oppidan fee goes towards, amongst other things, paying the oppidan sub-wardens and oppidan events. I have yet to meet an oppidan sub-warden in person, although I am sure that is because I haven’t needed them yet. I would hope that if Rhodes University had in fact agreed to Netcare’s proposal I would never have to use those facilities either, but I would rather feel safe knowing that there was the option. Now, if the University chose to refuse Netcare’s offer on the grounds that the provincial emergency care was sufficient then this may be a different matter. However, I am pretty sure that the provincial ambulance services have enough on their hands without having to deal with distressed students who are almost always accompanied by paranoid parents. Provincial ambulance services are understaffed and over-worked as it is. One of the big issues with privatisation is that it causes economic apartheid as not everyone can afford privatised services, but at R5 a month this almost seems worth it to me. Government hospitals are doing the best they can with what they have, and that includes dealing with a minister with ever-entertaining views on the properties of vegetables. I am definitely not claiming to be an expert on healthcare and I’m sure there are hidden costs somewhere, but so far it seems to be a pretty good deal and the only fault the University has been able to bring forward so far is the blanket charge. The University will be meeting with Netcare again this year, so we will have to wait and see if they change their minds.
Activate has been trying to make sense out of several things, including what the term “coconut” actually means, why people walk out of lectures when lecturers think it is rude and where does the money you give parking attendants go? Whilst some of these issues better, the University’s reasoning regarding Netcare still baffles me. Perhaps time will make things clearer. In the meantime good luck for exams, have a wonderful vacation and good luck to everyone performing at the National Arts Festival.