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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Health policy in transition? The limits to reform
Author:De Beer, Cedric
Periodical:South African Review - SARS
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:health policy
public health
Abstract:In May 1990, the Minister of National Health and Population Development of South Africa announced that the government would abolish all hospital apartheid and that hospitals were now open to all. In retrospect the minister's statement was a far cry from a full commitment to end hospital apartheid. This should have been obvious from certain immediate 'clarifications' of the policy, indicating that a superintendent is empowered to decide whether a bed is available or not, and also has the right to allocate a bed, and that there are reasons why certain people can be grouped together or separated. The ambivalent nature of the minister's statement and the slow progress towards implementing even the limited changes in health policy announced raise a series of questions which do not have simple answers. This article explores the changing context of health policy formulation facing both government and oppositional groups, and evaluates the extent to which apparent changes in government policy have resulted in concrete changes to the health care delivery system. There seems little doubt that the minister and her senior staff are more committed to change than their predecessors. What is needed, however, is more than public policy pronouncements and good intentions. Government planners and politicians need to develop a plan for a comprehensive restructuring of the health service, rather than the current tinkering at the edges.