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A nation now defined by the intersection of the Western and Non-Western worlds, South Africa’s evolving healthcare system provides an invaluable reference for the perils that segregation and class control can create for large groups of a population. Under apartheid, the system propagated such separation in the availability and delivery of medicine to its peoples in a caste-like manner. To be of Western descent in South Africa was a ticket that admitted one to the amenities of Western medicine; those without the whiteness of such validating paper found themselves trapped in substandard care. As apartheid was dissolved with the inauguration of the African National Congress, or ANC, in 1994, a set of goals regarding healthcare reform reflected the burdens created by the inefficient and inconsistent paradigms of segregated care in the decades prior. Still, the inequalities and unpardonable restraints on human rights are not so easily ameliorated with legislature and some of the most critical divisions persisted as a division between the private and public sectors of healthcare. The United States often imagines itself as a model system for other nations to imitate, and we rarely assign equivalent value to the tactics of other nations—especially developing nations. It would be prudent to examine the strengths and pitfalls that other systems have in the development of a more recognizable healthcare plan for our own country and its peoples. It stands to reason that there is much to be gained from studying a country as extreme as South Africa—one that has evolved from developing to developed in a short time span—and one that is plagued by a problem with which America is hesitant to admit itself infected—the constraints of a traditionally hierarchal health care system that consistently favors certain racial and ethnic groups, even if we attempt to claim that the stratification is founded in socioeconomic standing alone, thus exempted from the propagation of “separate but equal” undertones in care.
“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.
- Alan Paton
Lost in Legislation: Barriers in Actualization of Post-Apartheid Healthcare Reform in South Africa and American Analogies
Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health
Bender, Abbie Marie, "Lost in Legislation: Barriers in Actualization of Post-Apartheid Healthcare Reform in South Africa and American Analogies" (2015). CWIC Posters. 1.