A qualitative study on the barriers to accessing health services: perspectives and experiences of men in rural areas of South Africa.
Ngwazi, Nkanyiso Gift.
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The need to improve men's usage and access to essential health care services remains an important global concern. In South Africa, as elsewhere, health is one of the most fundamental human rights, and a strong and available healthcare system is important to satisfy this right. There is also a growing body of literature to suggest that men are less likely than women to seek assistance from healthcare professional, with women and children in South Africa having been the main focus of health services. The time has come to include the health needs of men, as those in rural areas remain neglected from the health services framework of South Africa. The aim of the study was to explore the barriers to accessing health services among men in rural areas of South Africa. For the study in-depth face to face interviews were used to collect data. In total 20 in-depth interviews were conducted among men aged 18 and over in a rural area at Umgababa (Mnini area). The findings suggest that rural men experience multiple barriers accessing health services including cost, transport, fear, distance and so on. In addition there are underlying factors that contribute to barriers in accessing health care such as poverty, culture, notions of masculinity, gender and health care providers. The study suggests that more community engagement and consulting needs to be done in order to encourage more rural men to visit health services. Moreover, the idea of ‘health literacy’, which is characterized as the capacity to make sound health decisions on a regular day to day basis, at home, in a group, at work, in health care systems, the commercial centre and the political field. It is a basic strengthening technique to build individuals' control over their health, their capacity to look for information and to accept responsibility. Health education is important for promoting health and prosperity.