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Government to blame for shortage of well-trained doctors in SA

The blame for the shortage of enough well-trained doctors in South Africa must be put squarely on the shoulders of the ANC government, who is putting obstacles in prospective doctors’ way instead of helping to improve the situation.

South Africa only has 25 state doctors for 100 000 people. The number of places available in medical faculties are also limited. At present, there are only 1900 places available for first-year students that want to study medicine. And the unfair selection process for admission to medical courses also adds to the problem.

In addition, the government is making it more and more difficult for doctors that studied abroad and who want to return to South Africa to work here.

In terms of a regulation relating to the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974, which was adopted in 2009 and was implemented this year, doctors that studied and qualified abroad that want to return to South Africa first need to complete an exam set by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) before they can practice.

The government is sending students to Cuba and spending billions of rands in an attempt at addressing the shortage of doctors, while the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, admitted that there is no international consistency when it comes to the training of doctors.

Doctors that were trained in Cuba are not fit to treat the health problems that are specific to South Africa. They are unable to perform caesarean sections, to safely administer anaesthesia and to treat fractures. They can also not treat advanced tuberculosis and HIV infections.

Instead of spending billions of rands on Cuban training, the government must rather invest in and expand local medical training facilities. However, the government is not doing this because for them a blind historical loyalty towards Cuba outweighs the interests of the sick people in South Africa.

People are dying due to the fact that doctors that were trained in Cuba are unable to cope with the local circumstances, particularly in remote rural areas.

The outcome of the dissatisfaction with the implementation of the regulation that requires doctors from abroad to take the HPCSA exam will most probably be determined in court at the cost of tax payers that will once again have to pay for the government’s incompetence and mistakes.

 

Contact numbers: 082 674 6670 / 065 801 7216

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