Jan. 4, 2022


2 min read

Basotho without IDs face health risks in SA

Basotho without IDs face health risks in SA

Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle

Story highlights

  • Most migrants face costly private doctors’ bills as govt hospitals cannot accommodate them
  • Students and workers often have trouble getting proper medical care in SA

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LESOTHO nationals living in South Africa without valid identity documents cannot access healthcare and other social services, a global problem that migrants face in the wake of persons’ movement across borders in search for a better life.

Ntaoleng Lesenya, a domestic worker in South Africa says some SA public hospitals have refused to offer healthcare treatment to some Basotho migrants because they do not have either Lesotho or South Africa identity or travel documents.

Although several countries have committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage, she says many migrants face costly private doctor bills as government hospitals cannot accommodate those without the necessary documents.

“Healthcare coverage cannot be described as universal if it excludes migrants,” Ms Lesenya says.  

For her part, Halieo Lelosa, President of the Basotho Diaspora Association, said migrants such as students and workers often had trouble getting proper medical care in SA.

“Those who are in South Africa illegally have an even harder time,” she said.

Ms Lelosa added: “Normally, undocumented migrants are denied access to medical services either at the clinics or government hospitals, one of the huge challenges that Basotho face.

“A Covid rapid test assessment could cost anywhere between M2 000 and M15 000, which makes it difficult to know the exact amount one has to pay. There were a number of incidents where migrants were denied healthcare services because they did not have the legal documents to stay in SA. We are working with relevant ministries to ensure that undocumented Basotho get the needed documents in order to access healthcare services.”

She said the Lesotho Government was aware of the whole situation and had promised to work tirelessly to bring hope to those undocumented Basotho.

She said the Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle was in communication with his South African counterpart to allow undocumented Basotho access to healthcare services.

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Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro in his national address this week said the ministers of health of the two countries would soon meet to discuss ways through which Basotho could readily access healthcare services in South Africa.

Healthcare remains one of the major challenges confronting migrant workers in most countries, gaining increased attention in the past few years.

There is now a general agreement on the need for closing the service delivery gap for this key population through a combined effort between neighbouring countries such as Lesotho and South Africa.

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