September 23, 2022

Why denying foreign nationals access to health is a human rights violation

Discrimination against foreign nationals’ ability to access healthcare facilities in South Africa remains a concerning issue in the country.

Bongani Bingwa speaks to public health practitioner, Shakira Choonara, about how denying foreign nationals’ access to healthcare facilities in South Africa is discriminatory and a human rights violation.

Arguments stem from foreign nationals exerting too much pressure on an already strained healthcare system in South Africa.

However, Choonara says that there is no merit to this argument, with studies indicating that foreign nationals do not put strain on the system.

Rather, the healthcare system itself is to blame – making arguments not only unfair, but discriminatory and a violation of the human right to have access to health.

Can we say that we can’t afford [foreign nationals accessing healthcare facilities]? Are we, then, saying we’re not affording human rights and are putting a cost on human rights? That’s exactly what the access to health is.

Shakira Choonara, public health practitioner

It’s not necessarily that the South African healthcare system isn’t well resourced, it’s, rather, how we are managing our resources. Yes, there may be instances of medical tourists, per say, but overall the percentage of migrant or migrant patients in the country is quite low and you can’t attribute an overburdened healthcare system to these patients.

Shakira Choonara, public health practitioner

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