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South Africa to take responsible approach to health reform- presidential aide

PRETORIA, Aug 23 (Reuters) - South Africa will take a fiscally responsible approach to introducing universal health coverage, raising annual spending on a new National Health Insurance (NHI) programme gradually to 33 billion rand ($2.2 billion) by 2025/26, a top presidential aide said.

Olive Shisana, special advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa on social policy, told Reuters in an interview: "This government is not going to do something that will collapse the economy. (The plan) is for gradual, incremental implementation in a fiscally responsible manner."

NHI is the cornerstone of government plans to fix a health system in crisis. Some analysts and opposition politicians have questioned its affordability.

Spending on the programme has been budgeted at 2.5 billion rand by fiscal 2019/20, its year of operation. South Africa's financial year starts on April 1.

($1 = 15.1617 rand) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; editing by John Stonestreet)