Decentralization, healthcare access, and inequality in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Margaret S. Winchester, Brian King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Healthcare access and utilization remain key challenges in the Global South. South Africa represents this given that more than twenty years after the advent of democratic elections, the national government continues to confront historical systems of spatial manipulation that generated inequities in healthcare access. While the country has made significant advancements, governmental agencies have mirrored international strategies of healthcare decentralization and focused on local provision of primary care to increase healthcare access. In this paper, we show the significance of place in shaping access and health experiences for rural populations. Using data from a structured household survey, focus group discussions, qualitative interviews, and clinic data conducted in northeast South Africa from 2013 to 2016, we argue that decentralization fails to resolve the uneven landscapes of healthcare in the contemporary period. This is evidenced by the continued variability across the study area in terms of government-sponsored healthcare, and constraints in the clinics in terms of staffing, privacy, and patient loads, all of which challenge the access-related assumptions of healthcare decentralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-207
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Place
Volume51
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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