Health and Welfare in South Africa

By | March 24, 2021


Official name: Republic of South Africa

Area: 1,219,912 kmĀ²

Residents: 57.73 million (July 2018)

Growth of population: 3.21% (2018)

Seat of government: Pretoria / Tshwane, (Cape Town, Bloemfontein)

Official language: English

Regional languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans and others

Map of South Africa

South Africa Location on Map

South Africa Location on Map

Even the smallest of towns can be found on the interactive map of South Africa. City maps of metropolises such as Cape Town and Johannesburg allow you to plan your stay. There are also informative maps with explanations for tourists about the city center and the surrounding area of Cape Town.

Further maps of South Africa and the individual provinces can be found on the website of South Africa Travel. Individual regions, cities or nature parks are listed in the map collection of “South Africa Travel”.

In addition, the province of Gauteng offers relatively detailed maps.

The current spectrum of topics ranges from economy to transport and ecology to migration and population density.

Relief Web publishes a constantly updated collection of maps on humanitarian, social and environmental issues.

Traditional healer 2

Traditional healer 2

Traditional medicine

As a major country in African continent according to equzhou, South Africa has a rich biodiversity with around 24,000 native plants. The traditional medicine has a long history. Biopiracy has been a problem for a number of years, especially since there are conflicts of use and the biodiversity of medicinal plants is being reduced. There are clear legal bases, but international / national pharmaceutical companies, some research institutions and some corrupt healers disregard them. Other research institutions, for example at the University of the Western Cape, focus on researching the healing effects of traditional medicine. There are controversial and often outdated figures about the number of sick people who visit traditional healers in South Africa each year.

The Ministry of Health has tried to incorporate traditional medicine in the treatment of tuberculosis. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act, enacted in 2007, regulates the tasks of the “sangomas” and their relationship with doctors trained in conventional medicine. Traditional healers are not allowed to treat deadly diseases such as AIDS or cancer. In addition to providing psychosocial support for HIV-positive people and those suffering from AIDS, they were seen as the last resort under the Mbeki government when the then health minister denied access to anti-retrovial drugs. Traditional healers demand financial compensation. Again and again families of the terminally ill get into debt.

Health care

After decades of racist health policy, everyone today has the right to medical care. Corresponding guidelines, committees and institutions regulate the implementation. Despite high spending on health care, state hospitals are often very poorly equipped and understaffed, so that in some places foreign specialists are used. Staff shortages, poor management and communication problems with health authorities particularly affect rural hospitals. Community health care workers organized by civil society are particularly important there and in townships and in informal settlements. As part of the health sector reform, the introduction of a national health insurance and the costs and equipment of private clinics are controversial. At the same time, medical research in a number of areas is top-class internationally. In March 2019, for example, the first middle ear produced worldwide with a 3D printer was transplanted in South Africa.

The Ministry of Health there provides information on how to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa, and news portals also offer current reports. Media reports from individual cities, townships, informal settlements, mining areas, rural regions and from farms enable everyday insights into the complex problems, local encouraging coping strategies and reflections – also with reference to historical and educational inequalities and gender differences. There are also reports on imaginative preventive, health policy and medical dimensions that take into account age differences and other diseases such as HIV and TB during the official curfew from April 2020 – including continental and international comparisons. International organizations should also provide support in dealing with the crisis. On October 11, 2020 the official figures put the COVID-19 deaths at 17,673 and the infected at 690,896; 4,388,171 tests had been carried out by then. On November 5, 2020, the death rate had risen to 19,585 and the number of infections to 730,548, 3,821,162 people had been tested for COVID-19. On December 20, 2020, the death rate was 24,539, the number of infected 912,477 and the number of those tested 6,100,373.

Maternal and Child Health

Mother with baby

Mother with baby

Maternal and infant mortality primarily affects poor women in economically and infrastructurally disadvantaged communities in rural provinces with particularly high levels of corruption. Structural problems in the health care system and a large shortage of staff in maternity wards, including due to planning and management errors, are among the reasons for the high maternal mortality rate due to medically avoidable complications.

High-risk pregnancies among young teenagers contributed to maternal mortality, which has fallen across the country since 2009 and affected 138 women per 100,000 live births in 2016. In 2017, 10.8 percent of all women giving birth were between the ages of 15 and 19. HIV infections were also a problem. Sexual violence and male power in sexual relationships lead to the spread of infection. Children’s health problems are caused, among other things, by violence, poverty and harmful housing conditions – to a large extent still after the effects of apartheid.