Health is the province of all

Healthcare has been a signal failure and a shining success of our brave new democracy.

Healthcare has been a signal failure and a shining success of our brave new democracy.

The government has successfully established primary healthcare clinics in even the most remote areas of South Africa. Pity that they are so inadequately equipped and staffed.

We have had mixed success with more sophisticated services. Though our big hospitals provide advanced treatment many black South Africans could never have dreamt of before 1994, these institutions are generally in a mess.

Overworked medical staff at these hospitals are renowned for their harsh treatment of patients.

This uneven service has forced ever more of the newly cash-flush classes into the clutches of the private healthcare industry.

And what an industry it is. Absurd prices are gouged from their captive clients and costs rocket upwards at least twice the rate of inflation.

So our embattled health ministry is to be commended for its first tentative steps to limit this headlong rush to fabulous profits.

This week it published regulations to eliminate unethical business practices and unprofessional conduct.

Next it will tackle transparency and ethical practices in the burgeoning private healthcare industry.

About time, we say. Health is too precious a gift to be left to profiteers and bean counters, even for those who can pay their way.

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