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South Africa’s Medical Innovation Bill

Medical Innovation Bill.

The push for Medical Cannabis in South Africa is finally moving forward.

IFP’s Mr Narend Singh brought the matter of the Medical Innovation Bill to the parliament floor yesterday and below are the details from the IFP’s proposition.

EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE DEBATE

ON BUDGET VOTE 16: HEALTH

CONTRIBUTION BY

THE HON. MR NAREND SINGH MP

INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

Old Assembly Chamber: 10 May 2016

Honourable House Chairperson; Honourable Minister;

The vast majority of South Africans, our poor and most vulnerable, have no

recourse to private medical-aid and therefore no recourse to private medical

treatment. They have no choice but to attend at our public hospitals and

Some of Our public hospitals and clinics are in crisis; From Infrastructure to

medical equipment to medical supplies to excessive absenteeism of staff and

lack of skilled professionals. We are in the midst of a perfect storm in terms of

the state of public healthcare in South Africa.

Coupled to this, we are chasing our home grown medical talent away. Our

tertiary institutions cannot accommodate many of the student applications to

study medicine each year. This places many students in the position of having

to seek, at great expense to themselves and their families, costly medical

What occurs upon their return is even more of a travesty. Many of them are

advised that their degrees are not recognized here in South Africa and if they

are, they are still subject to additional draconian regulation by the HPCSA and

exams before they are permitted to practice medicine.

We are of the opinion that entire system in respect of foreign qualified medical

practitioners requires a ‘reengineering’. Firstly a database of accepted

international institutions and medical degrees should be provided by the

department to all students having to travel abroad for medical studies.

Secondly, HPCSA regulation must be reworked so as to ensure the smooth

‘re-entry’ of foreign qualified medical practitioners into South African medical

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Honourable Chairperson, on 19 February 2014, the Hon. Dr Mario Oriani-

Ambrosini made an impassioned plea to the President. He stood in the

National Assembly, months after doctors said he should have died of terminal

Lung Cancer, and said –

“I plead with you to provide a voice on behalf of the many people in my

position who do not have a voice. Cancer is the greatest pandemic this

country is facing. People are dying because of bad policies and bad laws,

which we can change. There are available cancer treatments which are not

made available from a legal viewpoint… I was supposed to die many months

ago and I am here because I had the courage of taking illegal treatments in

Italy in the form of Bicarbonate of Sodium and here in South Africa in the form

of cannabis… There is no rational argument for continuing to deprive medical

marijuana to people like me who need it.”

The following day, Dr Oriani-Ambrosini tabled a Private Members Bill to return

to doctors the discretion to prescribe innovative treatments and therapies to

terminal patients in government authorised facilities, under the control of

government. It opened the way for medical innovation and research into

alternative therapies.

It was the immediate answer to the unsustainable burden which Cancer is

currently placing on our public healthcare system, and will continue to place

on our health care system in years to come. It opened the door for medical

tourism and placed South Africa at the forefront of medical innovation, a space

we were destined to occupy since the first successful heart transplant.

The President thanked Dr Oriani-Ambrosini and committed Government to

heed his plea. Now it is up to us to take that further.

Progress has been hampered by the breadth of issues the Bill encompassed.

It is time to extract the most important aspect, that of medical innovation, and

shelve the rest for later debate.

If we can untie the hands of the medical field through an amendment to the

Medical Innovation Bill, that’s great. But we are not married to a Private

Members Bill. If the same can be achieved through amendments to existing

legislation, we welcome that too.

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There are too many people suffering, Honourable Minister. We need to give

them options, not turn them into criminals and leave them at the mercy of

unregulated products and producers.

Already in 2013 research was placed before Government proving the benefits

of non-psychotropic cannabis derivatives for pain relief and shrinking tumours,

which offers an alternative to radiation therapy. And it is not only Cancer that

can be treated. It is effective for Diabetes, Glaucoma, Epilepsy and a range of

other disease our nation faces.

In the words of Dr Oriani-Ambrosini, “I admire our Minister of Health. He has

the guts and backbone that are required in his job… He bears the incredible

burden of creating a healthier society.”

Honourable Minister, I shares Dr Ambrosini’s conviction. You are passionate

about your portfolio, you yourself being a medical Doctor. This is an

opportunity for us to stand together in the interests of all South African’s,

setting aside petty politics and accomplish a great work. As Dr Ambrosini

made a plea to the Honourable President, I make a similar plea to you, let’s

make medical innovation a reality in South Africa. Let us open the doors to

new possibilities. Let us make a South Africa a world leader in medical

The IFP supports this budget. I thank you.

Contact: Mr Narend Singh, MP, on 083 788 5954

IFP Media, Parliament

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