Lawyers for Human Rights claim foreigners don't burden health system

Lawyers for Human Rights claim foreigners don't burden health system

After the recent announcement that foreigners will no longer have access to free healthcare in the public sector, Lawyers for Human Rights has taken a stand. The group claims that there is no substantial evidence supporting the statement that foreign nationals burden healthcare services.

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Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has taken a stand against recent statements made by the Department of Health. reported earlier that Gwen Ramokgopa, MEC for Health in Gauteng, announced that foreign nationals would no longer qualify for free healthcare from the public sector. The MEC had claimed that the budget did not allow for extra funds in this regard.

The Department of Health appears to have had a change of heart, later retracting the two directives requiring non-South Africans to pay in advance for medical assistance.

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READ ALSO: Gauteng health MEC says there's no more funds to treat foreigners

According to The Citizen, LHR claims that studies have presented a different picture to the populist narrative of blaming financial constraints and unemployment rates on foreigners.

Faith Munyati, an attorney in the group's refugee and migrant rights programme, pointed to a 018 World Bank study that showed every immigrant worker generated two jobs for South Africans.

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The attorney explained that access to proper documentation was a key issue in this regard, with many immigrants unable to afford or access the processes to become a legal resident of South Africa.

As a result, foreigners are left in a position where they remain undocumented and running the risk of arrest. Munyati feels that, should this change, the situation would be resolved:

“I believe if South Africa’s migration model was more accessible and individuals could easily obtain a permit or visa, many would choose to document themselves rather than to live the difficult and often unpredictable life of being undocumented.The introduction of a SADC visa could be the first step in this direction."

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