The Patients’ Rights Charter in South Africa

This case study reflects on the implementation of the Patients’ Rights Charter in South Africa, a policy that had symbolic and political significance because it signalled a move away from the inequitable and inadequate health services that were provided to the majority of the population before the country’s transition to democracy in 1994. The Patients’ Rights Charter gave patients certain rights, but also stipulated that they had certain responsibilities in how they accessed health care and engaged with the health system.

Various aspects of this experience are highlighted in this case study, including how the Patients’ Rights Charter was introduced into the health system, the outcomes that were achieved, how the policy change was perceived and managed by health system managers and health workers, and how the policy’s structure of rights vs. responsibilities provided a resource for some frontline actors who resisted its implementation.

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