Healthcare in South Africa – Major Challenges Ahead

Healthcare in South Africa faces major challenges in the years ahead
Photo by CC user vitalworks on Pixabay.

While South Africa is not classified as a ‘developing nation’ but rather as an NIC (Newly Industrialized Country) it still faces many of the same issues and challenges of a developing nation, especially in the realm of healthcare. There are a number of reasons for this, many of which are financial but the healthcare challenges are nowhere felt as badly as in the profession of nursing. Oddly, you hear more about the shortage of nurses than you do the shortage of doctors. This would probably be one of the biggest challenges South Africa faces today.

Great Education Ends There

Some nurses in South Africa have studied at some of the finest universities. The nursing shortage, then, is not the inability to train up nurses but rather in keeping them. In recent years there has been a sizeable exodus of qualified nurses from the area and when asked why, most respondents cited the same reasons for their departure. Perhaps the leading issue with nurses in South Africa is the fact that most of the clinics and medical institutions have been left behind in terms of modernization. Yes, nursing programs have kept up with the times but the hospitals and clinics they are forced to work in lack everything from working equipment to much needed supplies.

Ease at Which Nurses Can Further Their Careers Abroad

Nurses from South Africa who have come to the United States to practice their profession note that it is much easier to further their careers here because they can work and study for a master of science in nursing online. Not only do they automatically make more money here, but they can also work full time at some of the world’s best hospitals. They can also study to further their careers while working, a virtual impossibility back home.

Salary Is a Real Perk

Not only are nurses forced to work in outmoded and oftentimes unsafe clinics at home but they are underpaid as well. Nurses in other countries make much more money which is a real perk. After getting a masters of science in nursing, they immediately are eligible to make more money than nurses back home can ever dream of making. So then, when asked why they are leaving, the majority of nurses exiting South Africa state that salary in other countries is a real perk.

With a shortage of nurses due to huge numbers leaving to work abroad and outdated clinics and hospitals across the nation, healthcare in South Africa faces some very real and very major challenges ahead. As an NIC, there often isn’t the funds to provide better services or higher pay but that is what it is going to take to keep qualified nurses at home. Of course there will always be a shortage of doctors in most developing and newly industrialized countries, but doctors without borders help to fill the gap. It would be nice if there was a program such as this for nurses, but in reality, even that wouldn’t answer the challenges that face the nation. The solution is probably money and where that can be found is anyone’s guess.