Number of qualified doctors declining

THE DA has lamented the decline in the number of doctors graduating in South Africa from 1394 in 2004 to 1306 last year.

THE DA has lamented the decline in the number of doctors graduating in South Africa from 1394 in 2004 to 1306 last year.

This emerged from a written reply to a parliamentary question by the DA's Mike Waters to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande this week.

The drop in graduates was largely the result of a decline in output at universities in provinces where the need for doctors was most acute - Limpopo, Eastern Cape (Walter Sisulu University), and Free State.

At the University of Limpopo, for example, the number of graduates fell by more than a third - from 238 to 150.

"Research shows that medical staff tend to remain and practise in the areas where they live and study," Waters said.

"What is notable about the reply is the complete inadequacy of the minister of higher education and training's proposed solutions.

"Three scenarios are presented, involving increases to output by various universities ranging from 3 to 6percent."

The most obvious solution was to bring in the private health sector to assist.

South Africa's private healthcare industry was large and vibrant and very willing to be involved more constructively in solving the problems of the public sector.

"But the state-centred ideology of the ANC government appears to automatically exclude this option," Waters said. - Sapa

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