Knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and readiness of community pharmacists practising in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal to the National Health Insurance in South Africa.
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Changes in the South African healthcare environment are well under way in preparation for the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. The successful implementation of the NHI will result in universal health coverage for the population and requires collaboration of all healthcare providers, including private sector community pharmacists. Objectives To determine the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and readiness of community pharmacists practising in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, towards the proposed National Health Insurance programme in South Africa. Methods A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted by the administration of closed-ended anonymous questionnaires to 310 community pharmacists practising in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Data were analysed using Stata version13.1. Results The majority were male participants with more than 50% in the age range of 30 to 50 years, having more than 16 years of experience. Whilst 94,08% of respondents were aware of the NHI more than 41% of respondents indicated poor or no knowledge of the NHI, with 64,47% not aware of the health minister’s 10-point plan of action to implement the NHI programme. Television, radio, websites and newspapers in order of preference were found to be the most effective means of communication to disseminate information regarding the NHI. The general attitude of respondents towards the NHI was positive and they perceived its expected transitions as favourable but cited that the shortage of drugs, overcrowding and improving the quality of healthcare as major challenges that could be encountered. Over 76% of the respondents indicated that they possessed the required skills to engage in the NHI programme and almost 70% indicated that they were ready for the NHI with regards to IT support but limited human resources, inadequate infrastructure and the lack of waiting room space may pose barriers to their readiness. Conclusions and Recommendations: Although awareness of the NHI among community pharmacists is high, educational efforts need to be exerted to increase the knowledge and understanding of the proposed NHI programme in order to ensure successful implementation in the pharmacy sector. Pharmacists displayed a positive attitude towards NHI and believe that they are ready for the NHI with regards to skills and IT support but the necessary infrastructure, human resources and waiting room space is lacking.