|Cape Town Health Policy in
the Early Twentieth Century
|With widespread poverty, voices
were raised in the medical profession requesting ‘a new medical order’ and
preferably a state health system based on the British model. The Department of
Health (via the Gluckmann commission) proposed a system based on preventative
health services as opposed to expensive hospitals – a surprisingly progressive
Smuts did not accept the proposal for a free national health
system. In Cape Town however, a health centre was established at Grassy Park in
1945. There, doctors were to focus on general health rather than illness, and
conduct community visits to understand how living conditions affected the
health status of families.
Yet most health reform in Cape Town was centered on hospital
services. The growth of TB cases prompted a call for more beds and nurses.
Children, especially amongst the black population, had very little provision.
An outbreak of polio amongst children in 1944 strengthened the call for a
children’s hospital, leading to the eventual establishment of the Red Cross War
Memorial Children’s Hospital.
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