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The health of all citizens is very important for the development of a country. Everyone has the right of access to basic health care services and medical treatment.

What is in this guide?

This guide provides government policy on health to provide access to affordable and good quality health care. It contains the following sections:

  1. Providing affordable and good quality health care
  2. Key strategies used by the Department of Health
  3. Priorities for accelerating quality health care delivery
  4. Patients' Charter
  5. Key health care programmes provided at clinics
  6. How development workers can assist in health care delivery
  7. Key challenges facing the Department of Health

  1. Providing affordable and good quality health care

The Department of Health (DOH) aims to create a caring and humane society in which all South Africans have access to affordable and good quality health care. The overall approach to achieving this is contained in its Health Sector Strategic Framework 1999 - 2004 document.

The DOH is striving to:

Since 1994 free health care has been introduced for pregnant women and children under 7. It will soon be extended to disabled people. Hundreds of new clinics have been built to extend primary health care to communities. Doctors now have to do compulsory community service so that people in rural areas can have access to better medical care.

  1. Key Strategies used by the Department of Health

The key strategies used by the Department of health to provide affordable and good quality health care are:

  1. Priorities for accelerating quality health care delivery

While the period 1994 - 1999 focused largely on increasing access to health care especially for those who did not have access in rural and other under-served areas of the country, the current period focuses on accelerating quality health service delivery.

The key priorities in this period include:

For each of these priority areas the DOH has a strategy and programme of action.

  1. Patients Charter

The DOH is committed to Batho Pele. It has developed a Patients' Charter which has to be on display at all public health facilities. The Patients' Charter spells out the rights and obligations of patients.

A healthy and safe environment Living a healthy lifestyle
Access to health care Care and protect the environment
Confidentiality and privacy Respect the rights of other patients and health staff
Informed consent Utilise the health system optimally without abuse
Be referred for a second opinion Know the health services available locally and what they offer
Exercise choice in health care Provide health staff with accurate information for diagnosis, treatment, counseling and rehabilitation purposes
Continuity of care Advise health staff on his or her wishes with regard to death
Participation in decision making that affect his/her health Comply with the prescribed treatment and rehabilitation procedures
Be treated by a named health care provider Ask about management costs and arrange for payment
Refuse treatment Take care of the patient carried health cards and records.
Knowledge of their health insurance/medical aid scheme policies  
Complain about the health service they receive  
  1. Key health care programmes provided at local clinics

Health care in South Africa is provided through local clinics and hospitals. Local clinics, referred to as Primary Health Care Clinics, are the first point of service for communities. Treatment and care is provided to patients and cases that require specialist interventions are referred to hospitals. The government has set up norms and standards which guides nurses in their delivery of services. Our clinics provide a range of services that include:

  1. How development workers can assist in health care delivery?

Development workers have a key role to play to ensure that people access the services they are entitled to. Clinics and programmes should also be monitored to ensure that a decent service is delivered and that problems such as a shortage of medicines are dealt with. Development workers should also help build partnerships between the community and health services, by:

  1. Key challenges facing the Department of Health

The Department of Health is working on addressing numerous challenges to improve the quality of health care. This includes the deployment and retention of trained health personnel to rural areas and other under serviced areas and ensuring that all people have access to affordable health care.

Many of the present initiatives on setting up a national medical insurance system, re-deployment of doctors and restricting profits on medicines, are aimed at addressing these challenges.


The Department of Health Strategic Framework 1999 - 2004 -
Patient's Charter can be obtained from local clinics


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