Healthcare in South Africa
Healthcare is South Africa is sophisticated. The country boasts some of the best facilities in the world and the standard of medical treatment in the country is the envy of many. South African specialists have gained respect and recognition in many fields and the history of medical science is a proud one.
South Africa has a robust public health service that provides medical care to millions of patients every year. However, most people that are able to afford it are members of medical schemes, enabling them to access the private health service.
There are numerous medical aid service providers and consumers are literally spoilt for choice with the wide variety of plans that are available.
Why the public health system is maligned so often
Some people are of the opinion that the South African public health system is useless and that anybody that is forced to rely on this service is doomed to receive sub-standard medical care. The media often carry reports about abuses, shortages and poor service. Nobody will argue that the system has its faults, but the truth is a little bit more complex.
Many people do not realize that the South African public health care system actually compare very favourably when compared to the public health services offered in first world countries such as the United States and Britain.
The South African system is based upon the belief that every person has the right to quality medical care and the country boast a very large network of medical facilities that serve an enormous number of patients each year.
Treatment ranges from basic health care to sophisticated treatments for dread diseases and a very wide variety of medical conditions. In addition, the system is affordable and even free of charge in many instances. The main reasons why the system has to suffer so much criticism are as follows:
- A very large percentage of South Africans live near or under the poverty line and simply cannot afford to pay for medical care. The system is therefore expected to provide health care for millions of people, creating enormous pressure on the available resources.
- Patients are all treated equally. It is not possible for health practitioners to make appointments and to see patients at their own convenience. This often leads to long waiting periods and, subsequently, complaints.
- The medical system has to cope with serious challenges such as HIV and tuberculosis, which are rife. This places added strain on an already overloaded system.
What are the options?
There can be little doubt that those that can afford it would be better off by becoming a member of a medical scheme. This will ensure that they have access to the best medical care when they need it.
It would be wrong to say that private medical care is always better than the treatment given by public health facilities, but private care is most certainly more convenient. Patients are able to choose the hospital of medical practitioner that they wish to use and they can be treated at their own convenience.