SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
EHRLICH, Rodney. Persistent failure of the COIDA system to compensate occupational disease in South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2012, vol.102, n.2, pp. 95-96. ISSN 2078-5135.
Cases of occupational disease, solvent encephalopathy and occupational asthma are used to exemplify failings of the workers' compensation system in South Africa, that include delays in processing claims, non-response to requests for information, and inadequate assessment of disability. These and other systemic deficiencies in administration of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 (COIDA) reduce access by workers with occupational disease to private medical care, and shift costs to workers and to public sector medical care. Another unintended effect is to promote under-reporting of occupational disease by employers and medical practitioners. Reforms have been tried or proposed over the years, including decentralisation of medical assessment to specialised units, which showed promise but were closed. Improved annual performance reporting by the Compensation Commissioner on the processing of occupational disease claims would promote greater public accountability. Given the perennial failings of the system, a debate on outsourcing or partial privatisation of COIDA's functions is due.