Unequal acccess to health services

Topics: Health care, Health economics, HIV Pages: 7 (606 words) Published: August 11, 2014


We were in charge of documentaries at the hospital. We stamped, filled and filed documents that would be of utmost importance to patients who would come to the hospital. We folded them and moved them to the basement of the hospital. We worked for a total of 4 hours and documented a total of 1500 forms altogether. We also took photos of our work at the hospital and a certificate was given to us by the supervisor.

This assignment focuses on the comparing and contrasting the functionalist, conflict and symbolic interaction perspective on the health care system in South Africa and its problems. Functionalists note that health is essential to the preservation of the human species and organized social life. One way societies contain the negative effects of health problems and disease is through institutionalizing illness in a sick role. Conflict theorists note that some people achieve better health than others because they have better access to those resources that contribute to good health and recovery should they become ill. While poorer people have deprived access to those same resources. With this kind of unequal access to health services, many of the poor will die due to this problem.

The proposal for national health insurance (NHI) is part of a welcome resurgence in public discourse about poverty, health and access to health services in South Africa. Despite certain areas of progress in the country since 1994, disparities in wealth and health are among the widest in the world. In 2008, for example, 54% of South Africans had an income below $3/day. The top 10% of South Africans account for 58% of annual national personal income, while the balance of 70% received a mere 16.9%. The Gini co-efficient, a measure of income inequality, increased from 0.6 in 1995 to 0.679 in 2009.

In 2005, infant mortality rates ranged from 18/1 000 live births among white people to 74/1 000 among black people, which was much the same as rates in the early 1990s. The figures differed across geographical regions, e.g. 27/1 000 in the Western Cape and 70/1 000 in the Eastern Cape. Overall maternal mortality increased from 150/100 000 pregnancies in 1998 to 650/100 000 in 2007. South Africa comprises almost 17% of the world’s population living with HIV/AIDS. The country has the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world, yet only 40% of eligible adults are receiving treatment. The prevalence of HIV infection among those older than 19 years ranges from 16.1% in the Western Cape to 38.7% in KwaZulu-Natal. These disparities and burdens of disease are the tip of an iceberg of dysfunction and malaise within our healthcare system and nation, and are not conducive to sustainable development or maintaining a stable democracy. And all this is due to the fact that there are unequal access to health services in South Africa.

Why Is Access to Health Services Important?
Access to health services means the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes.1 It requires 3 distinct steps: 1. Gaining entry into the health care system.
2. Accessing a health care location where needed services are provided. 3. Finding a health care provider with whom the patient can communicate and trust.2

Access to health care impacts:
Overall physical, social, and mental health status
Prevention of disease and disability
Detection and treatment of health conditions
Quality of life
Preventable death
Life expectancy

Disparities in access to health services affect individuals and society. Limited access to health care impacts people's ability to reach their full potential, negatively affecting their quality of life. Barriers to services include: Lack of availability

High cost
Lack of insurance coverage

These barriers to...
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