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South African Medical Journal

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Reducing health care costs - potential and limitations of local authority health services

C.B. Ijsselmuiden, C de Beer

Abstract


Local authorities (LAs) currently provide preventive and promotive services. It is argued that, by extending the role of the LA to the provision of comprehensive services, including ambulatory and hospital curative care, both the quality and the cost-effectiveness of health care would be improved.

Making health care the responsibility of the LA would minimise fragmentation, allow for the provision of a number of services that currently are neglected because they fall through the gap that exists between preventive and curative services, and result in the more effective use of personnel currently restricted to providing preventive care only.

LAs offer an appropriate structure for effective community control over the health services, and are more likely to be sensitive to local needs and demands. In addition, their administrative proximity to other LA departments responsible for housing, town planning and parks and recreation allows for an effective multisectoral approach to health.

The positive aspects of LA care can only be achieved in the context of racially integrated services provided by an LA elected by universal adult franchise. Smaller LAs may need to be grouped together in larger units for the purpose of achieving satisfactory economies of scale in the provision of health care.




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