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Exploring factors impacting on sexual and reproductive health service utilisation among immigrant women living in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

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While the utilisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services among women significantly impact their health outcomes, research shows growing recognition to understand how access to SRH services impacts individuals’ use of these services. Globally, the increased accessibility of SRH services has seen improvements in the utilisation of these services among women. However, studies suggest that there are underlying inequalities in SRH service utilisation between migrant and non-migrant women. In countries of destination, immigrant women often face significant barriers to accessing and utilising sufficient SRH care and claiming their right to health. To understand these barriers, this study explored factors that impact the accessibility and utilisation of SRH services among immigrant women in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The qualitative data used in this study was collected from 13 immigrant women over the age of 20 years, who were sampled using purposive and snowball sampling in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. The findings of this study show that there are contextual, predisposing, resource, and need factors that influence the accessibility and utilisation of SRH services among immigrant women in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Participants noted experiences of xenophobia, prejudice, discrimination, and marginalisation as a result of the language barrier and inability to produce documentation that allows them to be in South Africa. In addition, while most participants are employed in the informal sector, they noted challenges of not affording medical aid/insurance to seek SRH care in the private healthcare sector when denied in the public healthcare sector. On a positive note, they expressed joy and a sense of relief to be in South Africa because they believed that the socio-economic and health situation of the country is better than the situation in their homelands. The importance and relevance of this study bring advocacy and awareness to the broader aspects of SRH, by taking into consideration the status quo of immigrant women in utilisation of SRH services in South Africa.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.