South African Medical Journal

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Inequalities in South African health care: Part I. The problem - manifestations and origins

H.C.J. van Rensburg, A Fourie


This exposition analyses and contextualises the complex problem of structural inequality in South African health care. Socio-econornic conditions, racial divisions and geographical location are isolated as the main determinants of inequality in the provision, allocation and distribution of health care; the prevailing inequalities are attributed to a wide range of underlying causes, including the absence of a central, binding health policy, the prominent role of apartheid and white domination, the free market and the medical profession, as well as the unique sociocultural set-up of the country. The urgent need for deliberate strategies to equalise the prevailing disparities and discrepancies is posed.

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