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The Healthcare Sector in South Africa
Expenditure on South Africa’s public and private healthcare in the formal sector totalled more than R400bn in 2019, while traditional healers that largely operate in the informal sector generated an estimated R3.5bn. The coronavirus pandemic has focused attention on the state of the healthcare system and its capacity to respond effectively to the health crisis. While private healthcare delivery is generally of a high standard, most public sector healthcare facilities are overextended, understaffed and poorly resourced.
Due to the high cost of private healthcare, particularly the cost of hospitalisation, specialist fees and radiology, more than 83% of the population is reliant on overburdened public health services. The prohibitive cost of private healthcare was a focal area of an inquiry by the Competition Commission, whose findings and recommendations were published in September 2019. To redress inequities in the health sector, government plans to overhaul the system and phase in National Health Insurance.
Burden of Disease
South Africa has high maternal, infant and child mortality rates, a high incidence of infectious diseases, especially HIV/Aids and TB, a rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension and an extremely high number of trauma cases, largely related to the high levels of violent crime and road accidents. There has been considerable progress in the management of infectious diseases such as HIV and Aids. South Africa’s ARV treatment programme is the largest of its kind in the world.
This report focuses on the healthcare sector in South Africa and examines the capacity and capabilities of the healthcare system and the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the sector. It includes information on the state and size of the sector, developments and corporate actions of notable players, and influencing factors including the coronavirus pandemic and regulation. There are profiles of 26 entities including the Department of Health and the South African National Blood Service, major private hospital groups Life Healthcare, Mediclinic and Netcare and laboratory services such as Ampath.