Freedom Day highlights the need for quality healthcare in rural communities

Freedom Day is a time to reflect on the hard-fought struggle for democracy in South Africa. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the freedom that South Africans now enjoy. While much progress has been made since the country’s first democratic election in 1994, many challenges still need to be addressed. One of these challenges is the state of rural health.

As we celebrate this important day, it is important to recognize that freedom and democracy are not just abstract concepts, but have real-world implications for the lives of ordinary people. Freedom means having the right to live a life free from fear and oppression, with access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and housing.

Freedom Day has different meanings for different communities in South Africa, including those living in rural areas. For many people in rural communities, Freedom Day represents the end of apartheid and the dawn of democracy, which brought hope for a better future.

However, for many rural communities, the struggle for freedom and equality continues. Access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and clean water remains a challenge for many rural communities.

Many rural clinics are understaffed, under-equipped, and lack basic resources such as running water and electricity. Their lack of basic resources results in people in rural areas having less access to quality healthcare services compared to their urban counterparts.

Rural Health Advocacry Project director, Mr Rensburg, explains that material conditions also impact health. “Health is more than health care and is impacted by material conditions like household income, living conditions like access water and sanitation, levels of education and other social determinants.”

According to Mr Rensburg, rural health advocates need to do more to connect the health system with the community it serves. 

“A critical enabler for facilitating this is empowering communities to actively participate in health governance structure from the facility to the district and provinces. We need to ensure the communities form part of the health response and not just the subject of the province.”

It is essential that the government takes action to address these issues. This means investing in rural healthcare infrastructure, including clinics and hospitals, and ensuring that these facilities are staffed with trained healthcare professionals. It also means providing adequate resources such as medicines, medical equipment, and diagnostic tools.

“We have many good evidence based policies which sadly are not always implemented effectively. Our view is the need to understand why this so and priories addressing the constraints to policy implementation,” said Mr Rensburg.

On this Freedom Day, it is important to renew the commitment to advocating for a more equitable society, where everyone in rural communities has access to the services they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. It is also of paramount importance to remember the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and democracy, and honour their legacy by working towards a brighter future for all South Africans.

Freedom Day is an important reminder of the hard-fought struggle for democracy in South Africa. It is also a time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done to ensure that all South Africans can enjoy the benefits of freedom. Investing in rural healthcare is a crucial part of this work, and it is essential that the government takes action to address this important issue.