240463 “They will just act as if you are not there”: Barriers to accessing health and education services for Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Margaret Giorgio, MPH , Steinhardt School, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, New York, NY
Catherine Mathews, PhD , Health Systems Research Unit, Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, South Africa
Sally Guttmacher, PhD, MPhil , Steinhardt School, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, New York, NY
Megan Cox , Steinhardt School, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University, New York, NY
Background and Objective: South Africa is a regional magnet for foreign migrants, and millions of people illegally cross the border into the country every year. Using Zimbabweans as a case study, the goal of this qualitative analysis is to describe the actual and perceived barriers that migrants face while attempting to access health and education services while in South Africa. Methods: A situational analysis was conducted using data from focus group discussions and semi-structured individual interviews with Zimbabwean migrants. In addition, the analysis used data from key informant interviews with South African service providers and international aid workers, and South African laws and policies towards migrants were also reviewed. Results: Zimbabwean migrants experience great difficultly accessing both heath and education services. While South African policy states that foreign migrants have a right to health care and education, access largely depends on the attitudes and resources of health care workers and school administrators. Access is also further limited by the rampant circulation of misinformation and the perception on the part of Zimbabweans that no one will help them. Actual barriers, xenophobia, and misinformation often interact to reinforce the perception that services are unobtainable, and this hinders some Zimbabweans from even attempting to access services. Conclusion: This limited access to services in South Africa is a violation to human rights and a major public health concern. Several interventions are needed, including increasing migrants' knowledge of the proper procedures necessary to access health and education services and sensitizing service providers to the needs of migrants. However, until more resources are made available to support both domestic and foreign vulnerable populations in South Africa, barriers to accessing services will remain.

Learning Areas:
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the barriers that Zimbabwean migrants face when trying to access health and education services. Differentiate between the systematic barriers to accessing services and perceived barriers.

Keywords: Migrant Health, Barriers to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have received my Masters of Public Health and completed two years of a doctoral program in public health. I also participated in the data collection for this project and conducted the analysis for the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.