Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 165–178 | Cite as

Poverty, Health and Policy: A Historical Look at the South African Experience



The resurgence of interest in links between health and development raises interesting questions about the process of research, policy-making, and implementation in the field of health and poverty. To learn about the process in South Africa, we examined three commissions of inquiry relating poverty and health – in 1929, 1942, and the early 1980s. Power relations of the players were a decisive factor and determined the type and nature of the research conducted.


health poverty policy analysis South Africa millennium development goals apartheid poor whites Carnegie Gluckman 


  1. UNDP. Human Development Report, 2005. New York: UNDP; 2005.Google Scholar
  2. USAID. Strategic Framework for Africa. Washington, DC: USAID; February 2006.Google Scholar
  3. Report of the Carnegie Commission. In: Grosskopf JFW, Wilcocks RW, Malherbe EG, Murray WA, Albertyn JR, Rothmann ME, editors. The Poor White Problem in South Africa. Stellenbosch: Pro-Ecclesia Printers; 1932.Google Scholar
  4. Report of the National Health Services Commission. In: Gluckman H, Albertyn CJ, Alexander BG, Barrett AL, De Villiers W, Henderson CL, Kemp SH, Lugtenberg R, Luke FR, Moll AM, Reeler N, editors. The Provision of an Organized National Health Service for all sections of the People of the Union of South Africa (1942–1944). Pretoria: Government Printer, UG No. 30-1944.Google Scholar
  5. Wilson F, Ramphele M . Uprooting Poverty. The South African Challenge. Report for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa. Cape Town: David Philip; 1989.Google Scholar
  6. May J, Govender J, Budlender D, Mokate R, Rogerson C, Stavrou A, Wilkins N . Poverty and Inequality in South Africa. Report prepared for the Office of the Executive Deputy President and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Poverty and Inequality. Pretoria; 1998.Google Scholar
  7. Nayaran D, Patel R, Schafft K, Rademacher A, Koch-Schulte S . Voices of the Poor. Can Anyone Hear Us? Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. The Impact of Poverty on Health. A scan of research literature. June 2003. Canadian Institute for Health Information, ISBN 1-55392-257-3 (PDF). Available at:, accessed 20 August 2007.
  9. Canning D . Background Paper for WHO Conference Entitled Partnership in Health and Poverty: Towards a Common Agenda. Geneva: WHO; 2000.Google Scholar
  10. Bloom D, Canning D . The Health and Poverty of Nations: From Theory to Practice. Background Paper for Partnership in Health and Poverty: Towards a Common Agenda. Geneva: WHO; 2000.Google Scholar
  11. Grindle M, Thomas J . Policy makers, policy choices, and policy outcomes: the political economy of reform in developing countries. Pol Sci. 1989;22:213–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Anderson J . Public Policymaking: An Introduction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1994.Google Scholar
  13. Walt G, Gilson L . Reforming the health sector in developing countries: the central role of policy analysis. Health Pol Plann. 1994;9 (4):353–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Reich M, Cooper D . Political Mapping. Computer-Assisted Political Analysis. Newton: Polimap; 1995.Google Scholar
  15. Klugman B . Mainstreaming gender equality in health policy. Special edition: Translating Commitment into Policy and Practice. Agenda. 1999;48–70.Google Scholar
  16. Rip MR, Bourne DE, Woods DL . Characteristics of infant mortality in the RSA 1929–1983. Part I. Components of the white and ‘Coloured’ infant mortality rate. S Afr Med J. 1988;73:227–229.Google Scholar
  17. Rip MR, Bourne DE, Woods DL . Characteristics of infant mortality in the RSA 1929–1983. Part II. Causes of death among White and ‘Coloured’ infants. S Afr Med J. 1988;73:230–232.Google Scholar
  18. Van der Berg S, Bhorat H . The Present as a Legacy of the Past: The Labour Market Inequality and Poverty in South Africa. University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit; 1999. Cited in: Terreblanche S. A History of Inequality in South Africa, 1652–2002. Scottville, South Africa: University of Natal Press and Sandton, South Africa: KMM Review Publishing Company Pty Ltd. Scottville and Sandton; 2002.Google Scholar
  19. Golden M . Carnegie Corporation in South Africa: A Difficult Past Leads to a Commitment to Change. Carnegie Results. New York: Carnegie Corporation; Winter 2004. Available at, accessed 16 September 2007.Google Scholar
  20. Van Rensburg HC, Harrison D . History of health policy. In: Harrison D, editor. South African Health Review 1995. Durban: Health Systems Trust & Menlo Park: Kaiser Family Foundation; 1995.Google Scholar
  21. Harrison D . The National Health Services Commission, 1942–1944. Its origins and outcome. S Afr Med J. 1993;83:679–684.Google Scholar
  22. Kark SL, Cassel J . The Pholela health centre: A progress report. Reprinted courtesy of the S Afr Med J. 1952;26:101–104, 131–136. Am J Public Health. 2002; 92 (11): 1743–7.Google Scholar
  23. Report of the Health Survey and Development Committee. In: Health Survey and Development Committee. New Delhi: Government of India; 1946.Google Scholar
  24. Social Insurance and Allied Services. Report by Sir William Beveridge. London: HMSO; 1942. CMD 6404.Google Scholar
  25. African National Congress. The Reconstruction and Development Programme. Johannesburg: Umanyo Printers; 1994.Google Scholar
  26. Human P, Strachan B . Transformation of the Public Sector: An Assessment of the Managerial Capacity and Implications for Management Development. Cape Town: Oliver Tambo Fellowship Programme, University of Cape Town; 1996.Google Scholar
  27. Mokaba B, Bambo M . Socio-economic context of health. In: Harrison D, Barron P, Edwards J, editors. South African Health Review 1996. Durban: Health Systems Trust & Menlo Park: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; 1996.Google Scholar
  28. Grindle M . Designing Reforms: Problems, Solutions, and Politics. Faculty Research Working Papers Series. Boston: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; 2000, RwP01-020.Google Scholar
  29. Ikegami E . Sociological theory of publics: identity and culture as emergent properties in networks. Soc Res. 2000;67 (4):989–1029.Google Scholar
  30. Kingdon J . Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers; 1995.Google Scholar
  31. Stone D, Maxwell S, Keating M, Bridging research and policy: an international workshop, Radcliffe house, Warwick University, 16–17 July 2001. Available at (link currently inactive), accessed 17 October 2007.
  32. Weimer D . Policy analysis and evidence: a craft perspective. Pol Stud J. 1998;26 (1):11–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburg, GautengSouth Africa
  2. 2.Human Sciences Research CouncilPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations