Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bad SA healthcare

Despite the health of women and children being a priority for the democratically elected government, South Africa is one of only 12 countries in the world where the mortality rate for our children has got worse since 1990. Each year, an estimated 2 500 mothers die, 20,000 babies are stillborn, another 21,900 die before the age of one and an additional 52,600 die before their fifth birthday, most from preventable and treatable causes," according to authors Mickey Chopra and colleagues.

Reading the intro to the above article by Kerry Cullinan at, it reminded me of the conversation I had with my cousin, whom is a young doctor, working at a government hospital. It was with absolute shock when he told us how babies and young kids would die right their in his arms, just because of a lack of availability of basic medicine to treat infections etc. These things happen right in the middle of South African cities and are common placed.

As a young doctor, he is already setting his sites on Canada. He says, he just can’t continue working like this. It is a complete mess. The places are dirty and he simply can’t take the horrible working conditions anymore. He also just feels emotionally tired of watching people die unnecessarily.

Some people are quick to "judge" South African doctors and nurses that leave SA. I think that is very unfair. Most of us, in whatever job we do, can only take so much abuse and horrible working conditions, before we say enough is enough and we quit. It is the same for these people. Plus many of them still have huge study loans that needs to be paid back and government doctors doesn’t get paid all that much.

I for one can’t judge people for looking to improve their lives.


Annette said...

I agree. A while ago a friend in SA, sent me an email (promoting SA), which listed "some surprising facts" about the country. One stated that Baragwanath Hospital was the biggest hospital in the world. I never realised that, so went to check it out on the internet. Turns out it is the largest hospital in the world. However upon reading further, it also stated that just under half of the 2 thousand people who are admitted daily are HIV positive! (That really put a damper on the positive email!) I can't imagine working in such conditions, and really take my hat off to people who do! I also don't blame people who feel enough is enough, and move on.

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