oa South African Health Review - Consent laws influencing children's access to health care services : child health
Making health care services accessible to everyone is a duty imposed by the Constitution, yet it remains one of the greatest challenges to our transitional health care system. Legislation aimed at improving access to health care has increased over the last few years, testing health workers' ability to practically implement such laws. Children are a particularly vulnerable group within society and should have their health needs addressed at all levels of service provision. However, in most instances children are unable to access necessary health care services on their own and require the prior consent of a legally qualified third party in order to obtain health care. Health legislation further restricts children's ability to consent by setting age limitations resulting in the suspension or prevention of access to health care services for many children in South Africa. Once it is operational, the long awaited Children's Act will increase access to health care for children by lowering the age of consent but it is also likely to add to existing implementation challenges currently faced by health care workers.
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