South Africans can attest to the grim consequences of regressive stances on issues of public health – The disastrous HIV/AIDS policies of Thabo Mbeki is said to have cost the lives of at least 400,000 South Africans. The real effect however, may never be known. And while the policies of the Jacob Zuma administration have been more progressive, with the overhaul of the health department being one of Zuma’s most apparent achievements during his term in office, the everyday experience of public health care in South Africa remains a struggle.
Overcrowded hospitals, overworked hospital staff, a perennial shortage of medicines are some of the challenges that riddle the public health system.
And yet health is not be the most pressing campaign issue during this election season. Issues like health seem to have been buried beneath an avalanche of rhetoric on jobs and Nkandla. But for the majority of South Africans who rely on public health services, the policies that govern public health are often the difference between life and death.
While there may not be much attention on the health policies of political parties right now, how parties approach health in South Africa remains crucial to driving South Africa forward.
SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014 takes a look at how some of the major parties in this election compare on their health policies.