Negotiating the New Health Care System in Cape Town, South Africa: Five Case Studies of the Acutely Chronically Ill

Abstract

This article examines the experiences of chronically ill disadvantaged patients in a newly reformed health care system against a backdrop of inequalities still prevalent in the wider post-apartheid sociopolitical economy of the Western Cape, South Africa. Patients negotiated a hierarchy of spaces at the national level of transformation and policy and at community-, secondary-, and tertiary-level facilities. The institutionalization of patients meant that expensive medical treatment was mobilized in accordance with different stages of illness and that certain services were available only to “qualifying” categories of diagnoses.