December 6, 2016 Uncategorized

Health systems and migration

South Africa, like the rest of the Southern African Development Community, has a high prevalence of communicable diseases, an increasing non-communicable disease burden, and diverse internal and cross-border population movements.  However, migration-aware responses are currently lacking.  This research explores the ways in which migration and mobility affect health systems, and suggests ways to improve responses to the movement of people.  

Understanding of migration is poor within sectors responsible for developing appropriate responses, including within the health system. As a result negative, unsupported assumptions relating to the prevalence of cross-border migration, the spread of disease, and the burden on receiving health systems prevail.

In South Africa, public health responses fail to address internal and cross-border mobilities, and non-nationals face challenges in accessing healthcare.  Current prevention, testing and treatment responses within public health systems – particularly for chronic conditions – fail to engage with the movement of people.  

Of particular concern is the lack of nationally and regionally co-ordinated strategies to ensure treatment continuity for chronic conditions.  

Research is being undertaken to make recommendations to improve health systems responses; co-ordinated, evidence-informed responses to migration, mobility and health are urgently needed. These will have developmental and public health benefits for all.           

About Becky Walker

Becky Walker is a postdoctoral research fellow with the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS).

With a background in Social Anthropology and Development Becky’s work has largely explored women’s experiences of everyday violence in both South Asia and Southern Africa. Becky holds an Msc and PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh where her research focused on the conflict in Sri Lanka and women’s strategies for negotiating everyday violence.

In 2010 Becky moved to South Africa to take up a Postdoctoral fellowship with the Centre of Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) at Wits University and also taught Gender and Development as a sessional lecturer in Social Anthropology. In 2013 she then was awarded a Wotro-funded postdoctoral project through ACMS that explored the multiple vulnerabilities faced by migrant sex workers in Johannesburg.

The project considered the impact of migration legislation, trafficking discourses and transnational networks on feelings of belonging amongst migrant sex workers in Johannesburg and Amsterdam. It also drew from an innovative arts based participatory project that Becky and a colleague ran in a women’s shelter in inner-city Johannesburg, and on-going research at ACMS into sex work, migration and trafficking. Becky’s current work builds on the Wotro project to explore the vulnerabilities faced by migrant mothers who sell sex in South Africa with a particular focus on the intersections of mothering, being migrants and selling sex and also, challenges encountered such as access to healthcare, stigmatisation and discrimination.

Becky has published widely from her research including a articles and chapters on everyday violence, sex work, trafficking and migration and sex work and motherhood.

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