This paper discusses the sociopolitical, cultural, familial, and ethical influences on the health risks experienced by the members of the Khayelitsha community, which is a relatively small impoverished town in South Africa. The community is characterized with high level of poverty, food vending on the streets and lack of food safety practice, which is subsequently increasing their health risks.
The sociopolitical influences
The prevailing sociopolitical factors are increasing the health risk to Khayelitsha community members. The informal poverty has greatly contributed to the worsening social and economic conditions in Khayelitsha. As a result, the community members are high unable to access quality foods. The social factors are making the traditional healing methods and food treatment commonplace in the community. On the other hand, the prevailing political factors have contributed to the limited health services in Khayelitsha. Since the ANC came to power in 1994, the community has been neglected due to lack of political interests. The government has not significantly contributed to the establishment of essential educational, social, and recreational facilities in the region.According to Abdullah et al (2001), political voicelessness has rendered the community vulnerable to various health risks including lack of food safety measures.
The cultural influences
The Khayelitsha community in South Africa has a long-standing culture of overdependence on street foods. As explained by Roux and Roux (2009), street food is vendedon places that seriously lack safety thus increasing their health risks. The community has a culture of not seeking for quality food products and services. This is influenced by the fact that there is high levelof poverty in the community. Furthermore, the street food vendors cannot guarantee high quality food products and safety. Cleanliness is a major problem faced by almost all street food vendors in the area; they sell food in dirty and unsafe places on the street.The Khayelitsha community interprets sickness and disease within a spiritual context. As a result, they use unsafe traditional healing practices that include herbalists, diviners as well as faith healers; the same applies to food safety measures.
The familial influences
The family setup is another significant influencing factor to health risks affecting the people of Khayelitsha community. Considering the high level of poverty in the area, most families do not practice essential food safety measures such as such as regularly washing of hands when handling foods, cooking in light temperatures, separation of contaminated foods, refrigeration, and so on (Spiegel & Mehlwana, 2012). In addition, most families depend on street foods because it is cheap, affordable, and readily available. Most family members have no income absolutely and therefore engage in street food vending business.
The ethical influences
There are a number of ethical issues in Khayelitsha that are promoting health risks. The community, in its entirety does not uphold ethical considerations. First, Puoane, Tsolekile and Sanders (2013) described Khayelitsha as a drinking spree community; everybody drink alcohol starting from the youths to the adult grownups. Alcohol drinking is a big ethical issue that is increasing health risks in Khayelitsha; local drinks are provided cheaply in the market. There are about 593 liquor outlets in Khayelitsha especially. Domestic violence and crime are the top issues in this community making it a hotspot none ethical activities and health risks.
Khayelitsha community is surely a hot spot of health risks. This small community in South Africa is affected by many factors increasing health risk such as political isolation, poor cultural practices, familial issues, as well as ethical issues. Street food vending is the common business in the community but it is associated with numerous health risks. The vendors do not consider food safety measures as they conduct their business; most food vending places are dirty and unsafe.
Abdullah, M. F., Young, T., Bitalo, L., Coetzee, N., & Myers, J. E. (2001). Public health lessons from a pilot programme to reduce Mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Khayelitsha. South African medical journal. 91(7), 579-583.
Puoane, T. R., Tsolekile, L., & Sanders, D. (2013). A Case Study of Community-Level Intervention for Non-Communicable Diseases in Khayelitsha, Cape Town (No. Evidence Report; 27). Institute of Development Studies (IDS).
Roux, I. M., &Roux, J. (2009). Survey of the health and nutrition status ofa squatter community in Khayelitsha. SAMJ, 79, 501.
Spiegel, A., & Mehlwana, A. M. (2012). Family as social network: kinship and sporadic migrancy in the Western Cape’s Khayelitsha (Vol. 31). Co-Operative Research Programme.