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Mental health care in South Africa 1904 to 2004: legislation influencing ethical patient care

M.Sc.(Med.), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009 / Mental health in South Africa has undergone many changes since
the pioneering work of colonial doctors in the early 1900’s. With the
advent of a human rights based constitution in the 1990’s, mental
health was forced to review its methods of care and the political
motivation behind many long-term hospitalisations. Because of these
practices, government mental health structures maintain and fund
institutions that warehouse a legacy of institutionalised and
disenfranchised patients from the apartheid area. A number of these
patients have been hospitalised for over forty years – some without
an appropriate psychiatric diagnosis. Many of these patients cannot
be discharged back into the community, as their families have been
lost over time. Many patients are institutionalised to the extent that
they are unable to manage even the most menial of personal tasks
and thus cannot leave the safety of the centres in which they are
International developments in the field of Eugenics underpinned
much of the sweeping social change that was embraced by Europe
and the USA. Germany based many of its policies of eradication of
the ‘unfit’ on eugenic principles that could comfortably accommodate
the rejection of racial differences. The profound effect that eugenics
exercised in the medical and social spheres internationally drove the
development of many apartheid-based government policies in South Africa. These included reform in the areas of education, mental
health, social development, group areas etc. This research report
briefly explores some of the social, medical, political and legislative
influences active in the field of mental health from 1904 to 2004.
Date17 September 2009
CreatorsUre, Gale Barbara
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
Formatapplication/pdf, application/pdf

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