Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, but in many countries, including South Africa, many people face significant challenges in obtaining quality medical care. This is one of the harsh realities faced every day. South Africa’s health system is underfunded, overburdened, and struggling to meet the needs of its diverse and growing population. We know this because it is reported on frequently. Despite these challenges, there is hope for a brighter future in South Africa, where access to healthcare can be a reality for all. My PhD thesis covered much of these areas.
One of the main challenges facing the South African health system is the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, particularly in rural areas, which results to a significant disparity in access to quality medical care between urban and rural areas. To address this issue, it is crucial to invest in programs that provide education and training opportunities for healthcare workers and increase the number of medical facilities in underserved communities. The realities of our youth having to leave SA or having to change career paths is fast becoming the norm.
Another significant challenge in South Africa is the high cost of healthcare, which puts it out of reach for many people, especially those living in poverty. To address this, the government should work to improve the affordability and accessibility of medical services for all citizens, regardless of their financial situation. This could potentially include implementing policies that increase the number of community health clinics, providing subsidies for medical services, and increasing funding for public health facilities, to name a few.
Moreover, it is important to address the social determinants of health that contribute to poor health outcomes and reduced access to care. This includes addressing poverty, inadequate housing, and limited access to safe water and sanitation. These social determinants of health play a significant role in preventing individuals from accessing essential medical care and must be addressed to improve overall health outcomes in South Africa. With the right investments in education, funding, and policy initiatives, our country can become brighter where access to quality medical care is a reality for everyone.
(Dr Claudia Sigamoney is a member of faculty at The DaVinci Business school.)