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South Africa’s health system consists primarily of a large public sector and a smaller but fast-growing private sector. This system varies from the most basic primary health care, offered free by the state, to highly specialized, high-tech health services available in both the public and private sector. However, the public sector is stretched and under-resourced in places. While the state contributes about 40 percent of all expenditures on health, the public health sector is under pressure to deliver services to about 80 percent of the population.

The private sector, on the other hand, is run largely on commercial lines and caters to middle- and high-income earners who tend to be members of medical schemes. It also attracts most of the country’s health professionals.

This two-tiered system ...

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