Sunday, April 27, 2008

Half SA's medics want to leave

Almost half the health professionals questioned in a recent study say they are likely to leave South Africa in the next five years, and one quarter want to leave within two years.

"Emigration is set to continue and even accelerate," concludes the report by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP), of which the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) is a member.

"There can be few professions where practitioners are as unhappy with their government department. The level of dissatisfaction is such that it may seem difficult for government to know where to begin. Certainly, it could begin with itself."

The migration project is an international network of organisations researching migration in southern Africa. Other than Idasa, which released the findings yesterday, members include the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi and the faculty of social sciences at the University of Botswana.

The researchers questioned doctors, who made up 44 percent of the sample, nurses, dietitians, psychologists, pharmacists and dentists.

About 29 000 people on a medical database were invited to respond by email, so the survey was biased towards those with Internet access. Information about 1 702 professionals was collected.

About 70 percent of the respondents were white, a legacy of how apartheid favoured white people in the training of health professionals, says SAMP. The "extreme" levels of dissatisfaction cut across race and gender, however.

Australia and New Zealand topped the list of countries respondents named as places where their lives would be better, with 77 percent ranking these first, alongside North America, also named first by 77 percent. Europe was favoured by 72 percent, while the Middle East found favour particularly among dentists and nurses.

Most respondents across all race categories said they would go to Australia or New Zealand as a first option, followed by Britain, Europe, and the US and Canada.

Almost one in three black respondents also felt they would do better in other southern African countries than in South Africa.

The researchers found that "in sum, it is alarming that South Africa's health professionals find satisfaction in little except their interaction with their colleagues".

"While their views of living and working in South Africa are negative, they hold positive opinions about other places."

(Read more here)

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