Why choose Africa?
The doctor is not in.
Almost two decades after the advent of democracy in South Africa, our country remains plagued with chronic inequitable access to health services. While the intention, the policies, facilities and even budgets are in place, we are still missing the key ingredient: people.
At present, an estimated 35% of posts in public health are vacant. Without a solid complement of qualified professionals on board, a hospital is really nothing more than a building. In many of our facilities, which are often very well-equipped, patients remain underserviced, outpatient facilities remain crowded and waiting lists remain long. This, creates more pressure for those staff working in public facilities, which tends to put people off public service as a career option.
And the statistics speak for themselves:
- The country’s eight medical schools produce approximately 1 200 doctors annually. But, over their career, half of these doctors will move overseas.
- This leaves about 600 doctors in South Africa.
- Three quarters of these doctors will work in the private sector.
- Only 150 doctors will be left to work in the public sector.
- Of those remaining in public service, the vast majority will work in urban centres.
- This leaves as few as 35 doctors from any single year of graduation to serve the rural areas of South Africa.
To break the cycle, we need qualified professionals – doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, radiographers – the list goes on. With more people on board, we can ensure greater support for everyone involved and make public and rural health work as dynamic and rewarding as it deserves to be!