Public involvement of citizens in the legislative development process is a constitutional requirement in South Africa. Relevant stakeholders should be engaged in the process. Patient engagement refers to the active involvement of patients in the decision-making processes at multiple levels in the health system. In order for patients to be engaged, they need to be provided with relevant information and an opportunity to be involved in the policy-making process.
This was cross sectional and quantitative study with descriptive and comparative analyses. 244 patients from the follow-up clinics at the Internal Medicine Department at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in the Gauteng Province, South Africa. The patients were interviewed through a structured interview, using a questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.
The majority (79.51%) of the participants were not aware of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) in South Africa even though the initiation of this process commenced in 2011. Of the participants who were aware of the NHI (20.49%), the range of the knowledge questions answered correctly was between 50% and 68%. Most (86%) of the participant who were aware of the NHI had not received an opportunity to be involved in the policy making process of the NHI. Even though most of the participants were not aware of the NHI, the majority of the participants were interested in being involved in NHI policy development process. There were associations observed between sex, race, employment status and education level variables and the odds of awareness on the NHI.
The majority of participants involved in this study were not aware and they were not equipped to be involved in the NHI policy process. Most of the participants were not provided with suitable opportunities for them to be involved in the NHI policy process, despite public involvement in such a process being constitutional requirement.