Experiences of Zimbabweans on the provision of health care at selected public health care centers in Cape Town, 1994-2009
There is a widely held assumption that immigrants have difficulties in accessing public health care services in South Africa. This assumption derives from the experiences of some immigrants in accessing public health care services at some public health care facilities which are all required by law and policy to provide such services. The main aim of the study was to investigate the experiences of Zimbabwean immigrants in accessing public health care services at some public clinics and hospitals in Cape Town. Foucault’s theory on power was used to unpack the experiences of Zimbabwean immigrants at these public health care centers. Zimbabwean immigrant participants were all purposively sampled for the study and medical personnel were randomly sampled. The Zimbabwean immigrants sampled had used public health care facilities in Cape Town. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from the Zimbabwean immigrants which were qualitatively analysed using content analysis. Questionnaires were also used to collect data from both the Zimbabwean immigrants and medical personnel and subsequently open-ended questions from the questionnaires were also analysed using content analysis and closed questions were analysed using the Micro-soft excel package of data assessment and statistically presented using pie, bar and line graphs. Themes that were recurring from the semi-structured interviews and responses from questionnaires suggested that immigrants in their experiences at public health care facilities encountered barriers that included communication problems, negative attitudes and xenophobia from medical staff, policy and practice problems and preferential treatment offered to citizens over non-citizens. Recommendations of what needs to be done to reduce barriers to health care for immigrants were made to all involved in the provision of health care. The study contributed to our understanding of barriers that immigrants encounter in accessing public health care in South Africa as well as the role of citizens in this process.