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Pretoria - At least one Gauteng public hospital has denied HIV treatment to some patients after a new provincial policy was circulated, activists say.
Leaked to public interest group Section27, the policy requires public hospital patients to prove they are legally in the country before receiving care. Those who cannot provide proof must pay the estimated cost upfront. Any difference between the estimated and real cost would be paid back, according to Section27 attorney Sasha Stevenson.
“The trouble is that you have to prove that you are a citizen, resident, asylum seeker or refugee,” Stevenson said. “We know plenty of South Africans who don’t have IDs and those who do aren’t obliged to carry them,” Stevenson said.
Refugees and asylum seekers are also not required to carry documentation, said Stevenson, adding that Gauteng’s draft policy risked turning nurses into immigration officials.
While he did not confirm the draft policy’s existence, Gauteng Department of Health spokesman Simon Zwane said the department follows national policy. “To access care in a hospital, normal tariffs apply… this remains the case (for) South Africans and migrants alike.”
It’s been reported that HIV patients, unable to prove South African citizenship, were allegedly denied antiretroviral treatment at the South Rand Hospital. But a 2007 national directive extended free ART to anyone in need regardless of documentation.
Health-e News Service