Section 73
Chapter 72,463

Responding to the health needs of migrant farm workers in South Africa: Opportunities and challenges for sustainable community-based responses

de Gruchy, T.

Health and Social Care in the Community 28(1): 60-68


ISSN/ISBN: 1365-2524
PMID: 31476093
DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12840
Accession: 072462400

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Reflecting global trends, migrant farm workers in South Africa experience challenges in accessing healthcare. On the commercial farms in Musina, a sub-district bordering Zimbabwe, Medécins sans Frontières and the International Organization for Migration both implemented migration-aware community-based programmes that included the training of community-based healthcare workers, to address these challenges. Using qualitative data, this paper explores the experiences that migrant farm workers, specifically those involved in the programmes, had of these interventions. A total of 79 semi-structured interviews were completed with migrant farm workers, farm managers, NGO employees and civil servants between January 2017 and July 2018. These data were supplemented by a review of grey and published literature, as well as observation and field notes. Findings indicate that participants were primarily positive about the interventions. However, since the departure of both Medécins sans Frontières and the International Organization for Migration, community members have struggled to sustain the projects and the structural differences between the two programmes have created tensions. This paper highlights the ways in which local interventions that mobilise community members can improve the access that rural, migrant farming communities have to healthcare. However, it simultaneously points to the ways in which these interventions are unsustainable given the realities of non-state interventions and the fragmented state approach to community-based healthcare workers. The findings presented in this paper support global calls for the inclusion of migration and health in government policy making at all levels. However, findings also capture the limitations of community-based interventions that do not recognise community-based healthcare workers as social actors and fail to take into account their motivations, desires and need for continued supervision. As such, ensuring that the ways in which migration and health are included in policy making are sustainable emerges as a necessary element to be included in global calls.

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