oa Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Setting new standards for health communication in South Africa

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0069



Prior to the 1994 election, health care was a privilege enjoyed only by some sectors of the community. After the election health care was entrenched in the constitution through section 27(1) that states that everyone has a right to have access to health services. The challenge the ANC led government faces are to balance the maintenance of tertiary care service with the simultaneous upgrading of primary care services. The strategy adopted by the Department of Health is to regulate the industry and educate the public. Although this strategic approach is designed to promote and provide healthcare to all South Africans, it appears to be failing. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit the health status of South Africa is the poorest of all 27 countries measured. During the first two years of the new health care system many crises occurred. According to the Director General of Health, some of the crises were the result of the long neglect of apartheid while other crises relate directly to the lack of skill in communication. This article argues that improved communication at all levels is a necessary prerequisite if South Africa is to improve the health status of our population.

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