Migration, mobility and healthcare in south africa: exploring the impact of migration and patient mobility on the South African public healthcare system.
Rebecca Walker (University of Witwatersrand)
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers the impact of patient mobility on the South African public healthcare system. It draws on recent research documenting the experiences of both migrant and non-migrant healthcare users and staff in rural, urban and peri-urban primary healthcare clinics across South Africa.
Paper long abstract:
Drawing from research carried out in six primary healthcare clinics in three regions of South Africa this paper considers the impact of internal and cross-border migration and patient mobility on the South African public healthcare system. In a context of widespread anti-foreigner sentiments and prevailing perceptions of non-South Africans "over-burdening" an already compromised public healthcare system, research focused on the role of patient mobility in relation to healthcare. A total of 228 surveys were completed with migrant and non-migrant healthcare users on their experiences of accessing public health care. Additionally, 77 in-depth interviews were conducted with healthcare providers to explore their perceptions of the impact of migration on their ability to provide quality care. Preliminary analysis shows that increasing mobility within the South African public health care system includes high levels of internal movement of people to access healthcare from a clinic of their choice - rather than from their nearest clinic. Meanwhile cross-border migrants were generally found to move for other reasons such as employment opportunities. The findings also highlight the complexities of different types of movement as impacting the public healthcare clinics.This paper therefore will discuss how these findings contest and complicate the popular belief that cross-border migrants travel purely to access (and abuse) free primary healthcare in South Africa. Moreover it will consider the importance of documenting and exploring these forms of mobility as a way of ensuring that the South African public healthcare system is responsive to the movement and well-being of all people.
Mobilities of wellbeing