Strategies to integrate physiotherapists into primary health care in South Africa

South African Journal of Physiotherapy

Field Value
Title Strategies to integrate physiotherapists into primary health care in South Africa
Creator Narain, Sholena Mathye, Desmond
Subject Health Sciences; Physiotherapy physiotherapy; primary health care (PHC); universal health coverage; access to healthcare; National Health Insurance (NHI)
Description Background: Health services are inaccessible in low-income countries. The National Health Insurance (NHI) bill, linked to primary health care (PHC), was introduced in South Africa to improve access to health services. Physiotherapists contribute to healthcare and improve individuals’ health status across their lifespan. The South African healthcare system has many challenges: physiotherapists mostly practising at secondary and tertiary levels of care; a shortage of physiotherapists in the public health systems and rural areas; the omission of physiotherapy in health policies.Objectives: To explore strategies to integrate physiotherapy services in PHC settings in South Africa.Method: Our study used a qualitative, exploratory and descriptive approach to collect data from nine doctorate physiotherapists at South African universities. Data were thematically coded.Results: The themes are to (1) improve societal knowledge of physiotherapy, (2) ensure policy representation of the profession, (3) transform physiotherapy education, (4) broaden the role of physiotherapy, (5) eradicate professional hierarchy and (6) increase the physiotherapy workforce.Conclusion: Physiotherapy is not well known in South Africa. Physiotherapy is needed to feature in health policies to transform education focussing on disease prevention, health promotion and functioning in PHC. Broadening physiotherapy roles should consider the regulator’s ethical rules. Physiotherapists should proactively collaborate with other health professionals to dismantle professional hierarchies. Without addressing the urban-rural, private-public divide, the physiotherapy workforce cannot improve, to the detriment of PHC.Clinical implication: Implementing the suggested strategies may facilitate physiotherapy integration into PHC in South Africa. 
Publisher AOSIS
Contributor NRF
Date 2023-03-14
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — qualitative and exploratory design
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/sajp.v79i1.1796
Source South African Journal of Physiotherapy; Vol 79, No 1 (2023); 8 pages 2410-8219 0379-6175
Language eng
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Coverage Africa; South Africa — Age; Gender; Field of Expertise
Rights Copyright (c) 2023 Sholena Narain, Desmond Mathye