FAQS

AHP

Who is Africa Health Placements?

We’re a social profit organisation working to improve healthcare services in the regions we operate in.

Currently,  we recruit much-needed healthcare workers for public sector hospitals in underserved areas in South Africa. We partner with the Department of Health and other regulatory bodies to do so.  We’ve been recruiting healthcare workers since 2005, and have placed over 4100 doctors and other healthcare professionals, providing care to over 28 million people.

Our programmes focus mostly on South Africa, but we also work in other African countries.

How is AHP funded?

We are primarily donor-funded to allow us to do the work we do, and our remit is restricted to the terms of those grants. We partner with a number of other organisations delivering solutions to Africa’s health issues. More information on our current funding partners is available on our Funding Partners page.

We are fortunate in that many AHP doctors and supporters assist us with fundraising. If you would like to contribute to improving healthcare in underserved communities, please donate.

We have a PTY division, Africa Health Placements (SA) (Pty) Ltd, which offers professional recruitment consulting services with the aim of further building sustainability for our NPC arm by charging a fee for placements. This enables our non-profit side to continue to offer HR solutions for the public health sector.

Where does AHP operate?

We work where donor funds allow us to – currently we  focus on rural and underserved areas in South Africa where there is a critical need for doctors and other healthcare workers. We have also worked in Swaziland and Lesotho, and currently recruit medical staff for Tanzania. Other African countries may follow depending on funding.

What does AHP do for doctors and healthcare professionals?

We facilitate the whole process of working in South Africa’s public health sector from enquiry to placement. We assist you in finding the right position for your skills and interests, assist you with navigating the various regulatory and immigration bodies, and once appointed, we’ll help you with settling into your new environment and meeting other AHP doctors.

We’re able to assist both local and foreign-qualified professionals, although some restrictions apply depending on your nationality. Contact us for more information.

PROCESS

Why should I use AHP instead of trying to do it on my own?

AHP is the only organisation in South Africa with experience in negotiating the various processes across the regulatory and immigration bodies for foreign-qualified healthcare professionals. These include the Department of Home Affairs, the Foreign Workforce Management of the Department of Health, and the Health Professions Council of South Africa that regulates medical professionals in South Africa. AHP has fully mapped the placement process, which depend on your nationality and university. Our experienced Recruitment team, who has over 50 years of public health recruitment experience between them, will guide you.

We exist to assist you in navigating through these agencies and are funded to do so, so there is no fee for our services. You will have to pay registration fees to the relevant authorities.

What does the Orientation Programme include?

Our Orientation Programme has been developed to ensure that the transition from your home country to rural South Africa is as stress-free as possible. The programme includes clinical, logistical and cultural orientation. We support you with assistance to open a bank account, register for tax, and buy a cellphone. We also provide you with a satchel with reference materials relevant to working in a rural hospital, including treatment guidelines issued by the Department of Health, and texts on family medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology.

At our three-day Contact Orientation Sessions you’ll attend workshops to prepare you for South Africa’s disease burden, and meet other doctors from your home country, building a support network that may last long after your time in South Africa.

What nationalities do you assist?

Each year we assist healthcare professionals from all around the world. Our main focus is on the developed world, with the majority of our placements coming from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

We’re bound by South Africa’s commitment to the G77 agreement and therefore don’t source healthcare professionals from developing countries. Professionals from these nations who are in South Africa are welcome to contact us to discuss whether we can assist.

How long are the contracts?

Contracts are paid positions, and most doctors commit to a year or longer. This provides sufficient time for most doctors to gain the most out of their stay in South Africa, while hospitals find that a year provides them with a good return on their investment in the administration and coaching of new doctors.

We can assist with voluntary posts if you can’t commit to a full year – contact us for more information.

What will the process cost me?

We are donor funded to help find the workforce to deliver health to underserved communities, so we do not charge for our services.

However, there will be costs linked to initial professional registration fees, the verification of your credentials, legal requirements regarding documentation, postage and a work permit. Our Recruitment Officers can advise you on the current fees.

You will need to pay for your own travel to South Africa. The positions are salaried. 

Do I need to sit examinations to work in South Africa?

All applications go through the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) Board for approval. The HPCSA Board determines whether candidates need to sit an exam.

 

How long does it take to go through the placement process?

The process can take between nine and 12 months for foreign-qualified health professionals. It involves many agencies and regulatory bodies, and there are occasional changes in requirements. It’s our job to help you navigate those various steps and leverage our relationships to make the process as easy for you as possible.

We advise that you apply early and get going with the administrative requirements to take advantage of this life-changing career opportunity. 

WORK

Can I bring my partner/spouse, and what about children? What will they do and what job possibilities are there for them?

Yes, your family will be most welcome. Many doctors come out as couples, and we can place both of you at the same hospital.

If your partner has a different career, they will need to apply for a visa to accompany you. Many opportunities exist for volunteer work, but paid work is highly dependent on the need in the local area, your partner’s skills and most importantly, their ability to acquire a working visa. We will advise as much as we can, but we can’t help find career positions for partners. It’s often best to look for those opportunities once you have arrived in South Africa. Schooling is of a good standard and often near facilities.

Where will I live?

Accommodation is often provided in the hospital grounds for a nominal amount of approximately R1000 per month, which is currently around £45, €55 or $65.  If accommodation is not available on the hospital grounds, local accommodation can be secured.

Below is an example of the doctor’s accommodation in hospital grounds at Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal:

_MG_0328

 

Do I need to learn the local language?

All official documentation and correspondence are done in English. It’s definitely useful to learn some phrases of South Africa’s local languages, and you’ll most likely find that living in South Africa will make it much easier to start learning the local language in the area where you work. The nursing and support staff can also assist with translation to help you to communicate with patients.

Where will I be located?

Your skills and location preferences are taken into account when we look for positions for you. South Africa is a huge and diverse country and our Recruitment Officers can give you more context during your discussions.

Rural hospitals can be several hours from urban centres, but most are within driving distance of shopping centres. Most doctors find that they need to buy a vehicle when they move to South Africa, and then sell them on to the next set of doctors when they leave the country. 

Most regional referral hospitals are in urban areas. Regional hospitals serve rural hospitals and clinics as a referral centre when specialist treatment is required.

What are the working hours?

A standard working week is 45 hours from Monday to Friday. Doctors also perform on-call duties when necessary.

What type of remuneration can I expect?

Salaries are set and paid by the National Department of Health and your skills and experience will be taken into account. The entry-level salary for minimum one-year paid contracts is approximately R 500 000. Our living costs are much lower than in Europe and the United States, and you can live comfortably and afford to travel in South Africa on this salary. You will need to buy or share a car, as public transport options are very limited. 

 

What kind of supervision will I have?

This will depend on your level of experience and the hospital you are placed in – we work with you to make sure you are placed in a suitable facility.

Senior clinical staff are available to help and provide support for work that is outside of your experience. In addition, your colleagues are often other foreign-qualified professionals and junior South African personnel who are doing a community service year. Due to personnel limitations, you may at times be required to work unsupervised and take charge of departments, but hospitals do have systems to phone for support, and the nurses are generally quite experienced.

What kind of work will I be doing?

There are no two days the same when working in underserved hospitals. Generally, you are expected to provide basic care to the emergency department, outpatient and inpatient clinics as well as visiting satellite clinics. Surgical procedures will depend on your experience and skills, but you can learn a lot if you want to expand your skill set and cover a broader spectrum.

The services required in outlying clinics are most closely aligned to that of a General Practitioner. There is a premium on obstetric skills and you may learn some anaesthetics and tropical disease treatments. You will certainly gain experience in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and TB. You’ll also gain other non-clinical skills – our doctors tell us they return to their home country with more confidence in making independent decisions and are far more resilient.

What kind of doctors are you looking for?

We place a wide variety of doctors as well as other qualified medical professionals.  Generalists are in high demand, as are Tropical Medicine doctors and those interested in Global Health.

Placements are in underserved and rural areas, so the work is varied and interesting. South Africa’s quadruple burden of disease results in patients presenting with a wider variety of pathologies than often seen in developed countries.  You’ll gain experience in dealing with obstetrics, trauma, anaesthesia and internal medicine. You’ll likely deal with patients presenting with HIV/AIDS, TB, and non-communicable diseases. In addition, poverty rates are disproportionately high among rural communities, which can lead to delays in seeking medical assistance. There are opportunities for training courses and support from other professionals. 

Watch these videos to gain some insight from doctors we have placed: UK  doctors at Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal,  a Dutch doctor at Isilimela Hospital in the Eastern Cape, and doctors at Bethesda Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.