JOHANNESBURG, The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has raised concerns about the huge shortage of health professionals in the country and lamented that only approximately 1,000 of the 30,000 people who apply to study medicine locally will be accepted into medical schools.
SAMA says the shortages are largely self-inflicted, noting that each year, up to 30 ,00 aspiring doctors in South Africa apply to the nine medical schools in the country and each year, only 1000 of them are accepted, mainly because of the limited number of slots available at universities.
The Junior Doctor’s Association of South Africa (Judasa), which is a structure within the SAMA, says although the Minister of Higher Education is to be commended for pushing for more medical schools to be built, the reality is that more still has to be done.
Speaking from his own experience, Dr Zahid Dadroodien says the demand for slots in medical school far outnumbers their availability. “We look at medical facilities that train junior doctors so the medical schools around the country which aren’t big enough to take in more people and that is why new medical schools need to be built.
“And I speak on this from personal experience, where as a medical student not too long ago, I had to sit on the floor because there was no space for me to sit at a table and to take my notes.”
Dr Dadroodien says adding to the pressure of being accepted into medical school is the high cost of funding one’s studies.
“Currently the system is not being supported to such a degree that it will allow capable people who deserve to enter the medical profession to be studying.”
The Department of Higher Education says it is considering the option of allowing private medical schools to be built as a means to tackle shortages of space at South African universities. Department Spokesperson Madikwe Mabotha says that three more medical schools are also under consideration.
“The long term solution to the problem is to increase the capacity of our institutions to be able to produce more doctors. There’s no question that the system needs to expand for us to be able to double the intake of the current size, which will require a massive investment in both infrastructure and human resources.”
The department says the establishment and operation of medical schools in South Africa is expensive with a challenging accreditation process. This is little comfort for thousands of those who want to enter the profession.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK