The challenge

In the high-income countries of the world, the ratio of doctors to people is around 280 per 100 000. In the countries of southern Africa, this ratio drops to anything from 55 (South Africa) to five (Lesotho) doctors per 100 000. These numbers are further exacerbated by massively uneven distribution of resources between urban and rural areas and between the private and public sectors. 

According to the World Health Organisation, Africa has 24% of the world’s disease burden, but just 3% of the healthcare workers and accounts for less than 1% of global healthcare spending: read more

This leaves an extraordinary challenge for governments to overcome. Because of the lack of access to quality healthcare services, a massive pent-up demand for care exists, particularly across the public and rural health sectors. One result of this unsatisfied demand is evident in the stymied success of any vertical disease management efforts, such as the quest to control HIV/Aids, TB or diabetes.

To strengthen health systems in Africa, an exponential increase in the number of qualified health professionals and an appropriate distribution of these skills to where they are needed are absolute critical success factors. But where will we find them? 

It is non-viable to simply attempt filling the gaps with local professionals due to the high costs of training doctors and the low volumes of graduates that the country’s medical schools produce. . And while encouraging local talent to pursue a career in medicine, while seeking to make local facilities attractive enough to compete and keep the talent at home ARE certainly the more preferable long-term approaches, the fact remains that in the short and medium-term, staff capacity simply has to be supplemented by foreign recruitment programmes. 

Africa Health Placements can help in both of these areas. 

  • Econex Study on HR supply constraints (pdf)