Foreign doctors boost for SA rural areas

South African doctors do not want to work in rural areas and a non-profit organisation is meeting the needs of the department of health by recruiting foreign doctors to work in the deepest parts of the country.

Africa Health Placements focuses on the remote and the most rural parts of South Africa and they find doctors who are then absorbed by the department of health.

The doctors are contracted by the national Department of Health.

Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the work done by Africa Health Placements was helping the department where local doctors fell short.

“Their recruitment is working a lot for the rural areas. We have a problem with locally produced doctors who do not want to go work in rural areas. Despite various efforts, even those sent to Cuba, stay only for the duration of their community service and they choose to work in urban areas.

“Our doctors do not want to serve their own people. Our facilities in very rural areas have foreign doctors,” Kupelo said.

Stacey Pillay, the chief innovation officer at the centre, said they did not have a profile on the kind of doctor that they send to the rural areas.

“Different types of doctors are sent to different health facilities based on their needs. We do not have a specific kind of doctor that we send,” she said.

Pillay said their primary role was to ensure that even people in the least advanced parts of South Africa have access to doctors.

“We source doctors from all over the world. We exist to support the Department of Health,” Pillay added.

According to their website, Africa Health Placement has been operating in South Africa since 2005.

As a Johannesburg-based NPO, they started by recruiting 10 British doctors in their first year. To date, they have placed over 4100 local and international doctors in different parts of rural South Africa.

Kupelo could not say how many doctors in the province have been recruited through Africa Health Placements.

“We have been working with them since 2009 via the national Department of Health at no cost to the province. Currently, they are busy finalising the recruitment of 31 doctors to the Eastern Cape,” Kupelo added. —


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