South African Journal of Industrial Engineering
versión On-line ISSN 2224-7890
versión impresa ISSN 1012-277X
HATTINGH, T.S.. An unlikely suitor: industrial engineering in health promotion. S. Afr. J. Ind. Eng. [online]. 2013, vol.24, n.1, pp.01-13. ISSN 2224-7890.
Primary healthcare forms the foundation for transforming healthcare in South Africa. The primary healthcare system is based on five pillars, one of them being health promotion. The principles of health promotion advocate that promoting health and wellness within communities will reduce the burden of disease at both primary and higher levels of the healthcare system. The challenge in South Africa, is that the factors affecting communities often inhibit their ability to control their health. In addition, the health promotion function within clinics is under-resourced: each health promoter serves impoverished communities of up to 50,000 people. This study aims to identify how industrial engineering principles can be applied to assess and improve the impact of health promotion on communities, and ultimately on the health care system as a whole. An industrial engineering approach has analysed five clinics within the Ekurhuleni Municipality in Gauteng. The results show a distinct lack of consistency between clinics. Common issues include a lack of standard processes, structures, measures, resources, and training to support health promotion. The problems identified are commonly analysed and addressed by industrial engineering in organisations, and industrial engineering could be a useful method for evaluating and improving the impact of health promotion on communities. Recommendations for improvement and further work were made based on the findings.