oa South African Health Review - Health legislation and policy : Primary Health Care : in context



The National Health Act is the key piece of legislation in the health sector, and thischapter focuses firstly on the extent to which this Act has been brought into effect over the past year. Other important pieces of health legislation are in the process of being brought into effect, including a new Nursing Act. In general, implementation of existing laws on the statute books has been slow, but some progress has been made with the less controversial aspects of the National Health Act. The second half of 2008 has been dominated by the tabling of a number of Amendment Bills relating to health, including a National Health Amendment Bill. These are expected to be taken through Parliament in 2008, despite the truncated terms provided as a result of the looming General Election in 2009. Court decisions can also have a dramatic impact on health legislation and on the development and implementation of policy. Some of these key recent cases are also covered in this chapter. Implementation-level policies continue to be developed, and a listing of recent key documents emanating from the national Department of Health is provided. Overall, the situation continues to be characterised by conflict, particularly between the Ministry / Department of Health and various stakeholders in the health sector. The potential gains that could stem from a more inclusive and participatory policy and legislative process remain elusive, but important.


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