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
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
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
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.
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
— — — — — — — — -oo0oo- — — — — — — — —