Medical Graduates Ready To Combat Health Worker Shortage



South Africa’s health system will be boosted after the graduation of around 600 students from Cuban Universities. This comes as a welcomed relief as provinces require boots on the ground.




The Department of Health (DOH) recently admitted that it remains a challenge to recruit health professionals to underserved and rural areas.

Two provinces impacted by this are Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The Limpopo Department of Health currently has a 12.37% vacancy rate in rural areas while the Eastern Cape Department of Health has a 50% to 60% vacancy rate in rural areas. The shortage of staff in these areas has an impact on the healthcare received by patients.

Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla believes the graduation of the South African students in Cuba will strengthen healthcare in South Africa. The minister presided over the graduation ceremony held at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi campus in Pretoria.

The 594 students graduated from Cuban universities as part of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration Programme. The programme aims to alleviate the shortage of medical personnel in rural areas around South Africa. From 1997 to 2022, the collaboration has produced 2556 doctors.

Phaahla says the programme has made advanced training as medical practitioners accessible for students who would not have been admitted to South African medical schools.

“From its inception the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration programme opened opportunities and addressed the need for a new medical training model focusing on preventive and promotive healthcare services rather than the historical dominance of curative health care system” explained the health minister.

He says when the students get home they will be integrated into South African medical schools for quality assurance of their qualifications. Once this is completed the students will be offered placement in internships and community service programmes.





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