Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 32, Supplement 1, pp S37–S43 | Cite as

Environment and health in South Africa: Gains, losses, and opportunities

  • Angela Mathee


South Africans face a range of preventable environmental hazards to their health, many of which are rooted in the country's colonial and apartheid past, and ongoing poverty and inequality. Since the advent of democracy in the country, government has made considerable progress in improving living conditions and in developing the legal framework to prevent and manage environmental contamination. Considerable, under-exploited potential also exists in South Africa to prevent disease, including infectious and chronic diseases, and to promote health through a more holistic and public health approach. This article summarizes the main environmental health concerns and reflects on mechanisms and opportunities to improve public environmental health.


environmental health housing industry poverty South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Mathee
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.South African Medical Research CouncilHoughtonSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Faculty of Health Sciences, University of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

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