n South African Medical Journal - Understanding healthcare and population mobility in southern Africa : the case of South Africa : editorial

Volume 106, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The impact of global increases in human mobility on health systems is a little understood but highly political issue in recipient countries. South Africa (SA) is the greatest recipient of migrants from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a region with high levels of migration, a high communicable disease burden and struggling public healthcare systems. There is a policy of free primary healthcare for all in SA, as outlined in the Constitution and the National Health Act, but its interpretation is less inclusive within implementation guidelines and practice. As a result, non-nationals face access challenges, and healthcare responses have engaged with migration to a limited extent only. Migration provides opportunities for health and economic benefits, and has the potential to positively and negatively affect health systems. To maximise positive impact and mitigate against potential negative consequences requires attention and engagement of policy-makers from health and other sectors, including public health researchers and health workers. We outline our current research and existing responses to migration and health in southern Africa.

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