Informed Consent and Health
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Informed Consent and Health

A Global Analysis

Edited by Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas

Informed consent is the legal instrument that purports to protect an individual’s autonomy and defends against medical arbitrariness. This illuminating book investigates our evolving understanding of informed consent from a range of comparative and international perspectives, demonstrating the diversity of its interpretations around the world. Chapters offer a nuanced analysis of the problems that impede the understanding and implementation of the concept of informed consent and explore the contemporary challenges that continue to hinder both the patient and the medical community.
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Chapter 9: Informed consent in South Africa: a legal, ethical and cross-cultural perspective

Sylvester C. Chima


The right to informed consent is constitutionally protected in South Africa through the rights to bodily integrity and freedom and security of the person, as enshrined in Sections 10 and 12 of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996. The requirements for informed consent in practice were later codified in the National Health Act 2003, which stipulates that all healthcare professionals must obtain informed consent from healthcare users prior to involvement in treatment or research. Nevertheless, recent studies have indicated that there are some barriers to implementation of informed consent in clinical practice. These include language, time and workload constraints on healthcare workers, as well as poor education, poverty and other cross-cultural issues prevalent among African populations. This chapter analyses the constitutional, legal and ethical requirements for informed consent in South Africa, and examines relevant case law and other cross-cultural factors impacting on the practice of informed consent in South Africa.

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