Our History


Our past is our heritage.

Our future is your assurance

SAMWUMED has a long and rich history of working to improve people’s health and quality of life. Operating under the philosophy that all South Africans are entitled to affordable quality healthcare, we have evolved from a simple trade union scheme to one of the largest fully-funded, self-administered medical aid schemes for workers in local government and government support industries nationally.

The spirit of our core values and a commitment to service excellence forms a thread that runs throughout our history.

Our Timeline

SAMWUMED is established

  • 1952

SAMWUMED is established by the Cape Town Municipal Workers’ Association (CTMWA), one of the founding organisations of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU), as a primary medical fund for its members. At this time, the benefit structure of the Scheme was very simple and most of its healthcare services were offered by provincial hospitals.

CTMWA Medical Benefit Fund

  • 1967

With the advent of the Medical Schemes Act, the CTMWA Medical Benefit Fund was created to meet the requirements prescribed by the Act. During that year, the Fund was also registered in terms of the Friendly Societies Act of 1956. The benefits and contributions of the Scheme were still very limited and the Fund only had five employees to run it.

During this time, only two medical schemes were available for local government employees in the Western Cape, the CTMWA Medical Benefit and the Local Authorities Medical Aid Fund (LAMAF). However, since LAMAF was structured according to race, many employees in local government were excluded from membership.

Assistant Provincial Officer Appointed

  • 1983

An Assistant Provincial Officer was appointed with fieldworkers, bringing the staff complement up to 17 employees.

SAMWU Medical Benefit Fund

  • 1989

SAMWUMED is recognised as a fully-funded, self-administered medical aid scheme.

Move to Athlone, Cape Town

  • 1990 – 1993

The Fund introduced a computerised administration system, the number of employees increased and the benefit structure was expanded. The Assistant Principal Officer was appointed as the Principal Officer and a Committee of Management was elected. The Fund, having grown considerably, moved into its own building in Athlone, Cape Town, where it still resides today.

Comprehensive Healthcare Centres introduced

  • 1994 – 1996

The Fund underwent further changes which included appointing Heads of Departments and forging networks with similar organisations such as the Clothing Industry Sick Fund. It was also around this time that Comprehensive Healthcare Centres, previously known as SAMWUMED Medicentres, were introduced at Athlone and Mitchell’s Plain. These facilities have since closed down.

International Exposure

  • 1995

The Fund received international exposure when its dental clinics were the subject of a study conducted by the University of Western Cape’s Dental Faculty. The results of the study were presented at an International Dental Conference held in San Francisco, USA during March 1996.

Single national medical scheme formed

  • 1999

By this time, the fund had grown substantially, with a staff complement of 63, and the Union entered into discussions with the intention of forming a national medical scheme.

In November, a formal agreement was signed between the SAMWU Medical Benefit Fund and SAMWU, committing the two parties to forming a single national medical scheme.

SAMWU National Medical Scheme proposed

  • 2000

The Fund’s systems were upgraded to be Y2K compliant, and a special general meeting was held to approve the proposed SAMWU National Medical Scheme.

SAMWUMED awarded accreditation

  • 2010

SAMWUMED was awarded its accreditation certification as an administrator. This was in addition to being registered as a medical scheme as determined by the Medical Schemes Act and being accredited to provide healthcare services for local government by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council.

Fully-funded, self-administered medical aid scheme

  • Present

Today, SAMWUMED is recognised as a fully-funded, self-administered medical aid scheme that fully complies with all criteria prescribed by the Medical Schemes Act.

In addition, SAMWUMED continues to implement the principles of King IV where relevant to the medical schemes environment, to reflect good corporate governance.

We have also made significant strides in ensuring that our systems are in keeping with our changing landscape. At the core of our technology developments has been a focus on heightening communication with our members and thus creating room for two-way communication.

In recent years, brand redevelopment has been a key focus, paving the way for the SAMWUMED brand to be more visible and compete confidently as a medical aid scheme within the closed medical aid scheme sector.