Towards a migration-aware health system in South Africa: a strategic opportunity to address health inequity

Jo VeareyMoeketsi Modisenyane & Jo Hunter-Adams (2017): Towards a migration-aware health system in South Africa: a strategic opportunity to address health inequity. South African Health Review 2017

Similar to the rest of the region, South Africa has a high prevalence of communicable diseases, an increasing non-communicable disease burden, and diverse internal and cross-border population movements. Healthy migration should be good for social and economic development, but in South Africa, current health responses fail to address migration adequately. A review was done of the available data in order to provide recommendations for improved health-systems responses to migration and health in the country, and we drew on our experience in relevant policy processes. The findings show that addressing migration and health is a priority globally and locally. The number of people moving internally within South Africa far exceeds the number of cross-border migrants. Contrary to popular assumptions, internal migration presents greater governance, health-system, and health-equity challenges than cross-border migration, but current responses do not recognise this. This article provides an overview of the associations between migration and health in South Africa, and calls for the urgent development of ‘migration-aware’ health systems.

About Jo Vearey

Jo Vearey is a Professor and the Director of the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She holds an Honorary Fellowship with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and a Senior Fellowship at the Centre for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 2015, Jo was awarded a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Jo holds a MSc in the Control of Infectious Diseases (LSHTM, 2003), a PhD in Public Health (Wits, 2010), and has been rated by the National Research Foundation as a Young Researcher. In 2014 and 2015, Jo received a Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand for outstanding young researchers. She was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2013, at the UNESCO Chair on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants, University of Venice (SSIM-IUAV), Venice, Italy.

With a commitment to social justice and the development of pro-poor policy responses, Jo’s research explores international, regional, national and local responses to migration, health, and urban vulnerabilities. Her research interests focus on urban health, public health, migration and health, the social determinants of health, HIV, informal settlements and sex work. Jo is particularly interested in knowledge production, dissemination and utilisation including the use of visual and arts-based methodologies.

Jo has a range of international collaborations, including an ESRC-NRF funded project with the University of Edinburgh, a WOTRO funded project with the VU University, Amsterdam on migration and sex work, and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘s Faculty of Public Health and Policy and Gender, Violence and Health Unit.

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