Health For All

The World Health Organisation (WHO) was founded on 7th April 1948, and this date is celebrated every year as World Health Day, with the goal of drawing attention to a specific global health concern.

Last year, the focus of the campaign was to mobilise action with regards to depression, and the theme for this year will be “Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere.” The slogan and hashtag behind the 2018 drive is #HealthForAll, and the aim is to encourage and support countries to provide quality Universal Health Coverage for all citizens.

It is vital for leaders to understand the importance of investing significantly in human capital, as access to quality care not only improves people’s health and longevity, but it also prevents outbreaks of epidemics, and creates jobs, which in turn alleviates poverty and drives economic growth.

The World Health Organisation supports the principle that all people should have the right to live their life in good health. According to the organisation’s website, the Director-General said that “no one should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”

As WHO is also celebrating a notable rite of passage this year — its 70th anniversary — it is calling on world leaders to follow through on the pledges they made in 2015 when they agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals. From a South African perspective, it is important that we now commit to taking the concrete steps necessary to protect and ameliorate the health of all citizens.

Turning the spotlight on South Africa

Although South Africa does have a public healthcare system, it would be fair to say that it is severely lacking and is often unable to provide the quality of care, equipment, skill and service that citizens need and deserve. And unfortunately, the country still has issues with deadly outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, HIV, rabies and, most recently, listeriosis. These diseases particularly affect the poor, and highlight systemic failures in providing secure shelter and proper sanitation to many South Africans.

Having some form of private medical cover in South Africa is, therefore, still an arguably unavoidable and expensive necessity if you wish to have access to quality medical treatment if the need arises. According to statistics released by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), by the end of 2016, there were 82 medical aid schemes operating in South Africa, with a total subscription of just under 8.9 million members; and Discovery remains the country’s largest medical aid provider, with currently over 2.7 million members.

According to an article published on Business Tech, “over the past decade and half, the average year-on-year increase of medical scheme contributions has been 7.6%”. However, due to the country’s recent political and economic turmoil, many people’s salaries have not increased in line with this each year, and many citizens are feeling the financial strain of keeping up with their contributions.

As a result, some people have started looking for cheaper options, which is known as ‘buying down’, and the popularity of hospital plans is on the increase due to its affordability. However, this could have a significant impact on your health and future well-being, as certain schemes do not cover patients in full. Even if it is stated that hospital procedures will be covered 100%, this may mean that you will only be paid out in full for the tariffs that are specified by your scheme, rather than 100% of the actual treatment costs.

For example, if a specialist charges more than your scheme specifies, which is common, you will have to pay the balance yourself, which can be financially crippling. As a result, many South Africans also opt to pay for Gap Cover to cover any differences in rates, and this is yet another cost that must be budgeted each month.

A brighter future

However, the future is looking bright for South Africa now that Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president and Jacob Zuma has left the building.

According to an article published by Eyewitness News, Ramaphosa has spoken frankly in the past about the country’s ailing health system and “has urged the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to take on government, and challenge officials to do more to improve the healthcare system.”
Now that he is president, it is essential that he doesn’t neglect the issue of National Health Insurance (NHI), which is an important implementation that would improve the lives of millions. The urgency of structural change to resolve the country’s crushing inequality should be at the forefront of our new leader’s objectives and, as citizens, it is up to us to collectively push for the right of everyone to have access to quality healthcare — #HealthForAll.
In the meantime, take the time this global awareness day to ensure that you understand the benefits and potential implications of your medical scheme. Rather than opting to ‘buy down’, research your options and don’t skimp on appropriate coverage if you can afford not to.
Don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting to discuss how you can ensure that you and your family are always fully protected in the event of any unfortunate circumstances – get the best advice and make the right choice..

Know your rights

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually in South Africa on 21st March, and is arguably one of the country’s most important public holidays. The commemoration of this day serves as a reminder to all citizens of the country’s struggle for democracy, and the sacrifices that were made on everyone’s behalf to attain the basic rights of dignity, equality and freedom.

As well as being a remembrance of the suffering that was endured in the days of apartheid, this national day is also a celebration of the rights that everyone living in the RSA now enjoys (and often takes for granted).

One of the most notable celebrations is the Cape Town Festival, which aims to promote tolerance and understanding of diversity through performances, workshops and various artistic endeavours. While other events around the country are designed to draw attention to current human rights concerns, such as racism and police brutality.

A bit of background

Back on 21st March 1960, thousands of unarmed South Africans gathered in a township called Sharpeville to peacefully protest against the atrocious apartheid government and its pass laws, which required indigenous adults to carry a passbook with them everywhere (this allowed the regime to control travel and dictate the duration for which black South Africans could stay in white areas).

However, as the crowd grew in size, tensions increased along with the police presence. 150 armed reinforcements and four armoured personnel carriers arrived, and the police eventually opened fire on the crowd, murdering 69 people and injuring 180 more.

This massacre became a turning point in the struggle for human rights in South Africa, which finally came to a head on 27th April 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected as president. Shortly after his election, Tata Madiba announced 21st March to be Human Rights Day, in order to pay tribute to the people who fought for the freedom of all South Africans.

Know your rights

The South African Constitution protects the human rights of all its citizens. These rights were previously denied to the overwhelming majority of the population, and Human Rights Day thus serves as an important reminder to us all to reinforce our commitment to the Bill of Rights that is specified in the Constitution.

These hard-earned rights stipulate that everyone is equal before the law and thus has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. The bill also includes the right for inherent human dignity to be respected and protected; the right to freedom of movement and residence anywhere in the country; the right to participate in the cultural life of choice; and the right to peaceful protest.

Financial rights?

Likewise, being financially secure and having access to a certain standard of living is also an important goal that all South Africans should strive for. Knowing how to make your money work for you can greatly relieve stress, as well as improve the quality of your life and afford you the freedom of choice.

Protections and benefits come in different forms, and there are ways to make the most of your earnings so that you can live comfortably and look after your family — even after you’ve gone. The key is to be aware of your entitlements, so that you can maximise your benefits and ensure you are protected in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

The battle against the oppression of apartheid may have been won, but we still need to fight for the right to financial security. Don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting if you wish to discuss any legislative rights that could help to improve your financial situation.

How does income protection work?

Being unable to temporarily – or permanently – work as a result of a serious illness or injury can put a serious strain on your financial well-being. In this day and age, an income protection policy can, therefore, prove vital, as it ensures that you will receive tax-free monthly payments if you ever cannot work. Basically, income protection (sometimes called ICB – Income Continuation Benefit) is designed to replace lost income, so that you can maintain the same lifestyle that you enjoyed whilst working.

Whether you’re self-employed or formally employed, protecting your earnings should be considered a critical component of your financial planning portfolio. An income protection policy will help you to remain financially secure, no matter what unforeseeable life event occurs.

It essentially offers the peace of mind that you will always be able to meet your financial obligations and take care of your family, especially given as many employee-sponsored schemes will not provide sufficient cover.

What are the benefits?

Income protection benefits can replace income, service debt and monthly obligations (thereby indirectly protecting your credit rating), provide cover until retirement, and protect you in the event of permanent and temporary disability. As opposed to the traditionally-preferred lump sum disability benefit, income protection benefits are notably easier to claim, involve shorter waiting periods, and allow you to make multiple claims.

As income can be inflation-proofed, one of the benefits of income protection is that it will allow you to maintain your standard of living, rather than need to adjust it to fit a lump sum.

What’s best for you?

Although income protection is often argued as a more desirable option than lump sum disability cover, ultimately these policies are designed to meet different requirements. It is advisable to never rely solely on a lump sum disability benefit to cover an income need, but we may feel that a suitable scenario for you is a combined approach. This should always be discussed, in person, in a proper planning meeting where your full lifestyle financial plan can add valuable context to this decision.

It is also worth noting that any changes in tax legislation may require adjustments, so be sure that you stay informed and understand any implementations that could affect your payments and benefits.

Income benefits have come a long way since the days when only 75% of a client’s income would be covered if they couldn’t work. Recent additional product benefits can include holistic protection against several eventualities that could threaten your earnings, such as family responsibilities and retrenchment.

It is important that your income protection meets your specific needs at a premium that you can afford (while also not placing you at risk of being under-insured), so don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting to discuss your options and ensure you understand the claims criteria. Remember, nothing on our website constitutes actual financial advice, but is aimed to bring context and supporting information to the fore.

Make the most of public holidays

Arguably, one of the best things about spring in South Africa — apart from the pleasant weather and the abundance of Easter eggs — is the public holidays!

Many people in South Africa work very hard. Legislation regarding the Basic Conditions of Employment dictate that employees are entitled to 21 consecutive days of annual paid leave, which equates to only 15 working days per year if you work a five-day week, and 18 working days per year if you work a six-day week.

Unfortunately, this isn’t very much compared to many other countries. You may be interested to know that most employees who work a five-day week in England are entitled to at least 28 days of paid annual leave per year, which is equivalent to 5.6 weeks of holiday. However, there’s no use crying over our lot, and there’s not always much we can do about South African legislation. We simply need to make the most of our entitlements, and we can start by being savvy when it comes to how and when we take our leave.

The good news is that there are more public holidays in South Africa than many other countries. And the steady flow of national days in March, April and May make for the perfect excuse to unplug and step away from the daily grind. Already a quarter of the way through the year, you’re in luck if you feel in need of a long break because you can start getting ready for a 17-day holiday that will only use up about half of the basic annual leave.

With a bit of forward thinking, you can really make the most of the sunshine and public holidays at the start of spring. Combined with weekends, Human Rights Day on Wednesday, 21st March, Good Friday on Friday, 30th March and Family Day on Monday, 2nd April mean that if you leave on the evening of Friday, 16th March and return on the evening of Monday, 2nd April, you can turn on your Out-of-Office for 17 glorious days, whilst only needing to apply for eight days of leave. You can start back fresh at work on the morning of Tuesday, 3rd April, with a contented grin on your face, knowing you’ve managed your time and entitlements well.

Don’t despair if you have children and need to fit in with school holidays, as you can still get a good run by going away on the evening of Thursday, 29th March and returning to work on Monday, 9th April. This will make use of Good Friday and Family Day, giving you a 10-day holiday, while only needing to take four days off from work.

And if that weren’t enough, you can also make the most of a lovely long weekend at the end of April — perhaps this could be spent as a romantic couple’s break that would give you and your loved one the chance to spend some quality time together. This year, Friday, 27th April is Freedom Day and Tuesday, 1st May is Worker’s Day, so if you take the initiative to book Monday, 30th April off work, you can kick back and enjoy a five-day break, while only needing to use one day of annual leave.

If you use the time wisely, you stand to get 22 days off work in March and April for just 9 days of annual leave! Once you’ve had the nod of approval, all that remains is to decide where you want to go – or if you even want to go anywhere. Although it is possible to find some great last-minute deals, you could stand to save money and precious holiday time if you make a few preparations and bookings beforehand. So pack your slops and start planning!

(Article ideas from and