How is the South African healthcare system structured?

Refugees, migrants and health care in South Africa, explained

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How is the South African healthcare system structured?

In South Africa, the public healthcare system is structured in different levels:

  • Clinics treat common health needs, known as ‘primary health care’. Clinics refer patients to hospitals when a patient needs further treatment. Clinics are run by specially trained primary health care nurses. There are different types of clinics such as mobile and satellite clinics.
  • Community Health Centres are larger clinics and they usually have doctors as well as nurses.
  • Hospitals are for surgery, emergency treatment and serious illness that cannot be treated at the Clinic. Clinics and doctors refer patients to hospitals: individuals can only present themselves without a referral if it is an emergency.
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