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.
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