South Africa is currently suffering from a shortage of medical professionals and the situation is taking a toll on the quality of health care in the country. It’s been speculated that one of the main reasons that this might be happening is due to doctors immigrating to developed countries in the search of better opportunities for their careers.
However, the situation can also be a secondary result of young medical students seeking education abroad. There are a limited number of medical schools in South Africa and they have extremely high expectations from their potential students and very low acceptance rates. Many high school graduates who are interested in the profession have no choice but to apply to an international institution to pursue their studies.
One of the more popular choices among South African students is China. The nation offers generous government funded bursaries and financial assistance for African students. Furthermore, the medical course is a three year degree as opposed to the seven years back home in South Africa. These factors are certainly a huge attraction to the students.
Many of these students opt to stay in China upon graduation and pursue a career and life away from home. In some cases they would have learned Mandarin as an elective subject during their studies, which can pose as a major advantage once they start working at Chinese hospitals.
This influx of young professionals is mutually beneficial for the students as well as China. Whilst these young individuals gain new life experiences in a foreign country, China is receiving talented doctors to solve its own crisis in terms of the shortage of medical staff.
However, there are some drawbacks too in terms of the viability of studying abroad. In certain cases where the student doesn’t qualify for government assisted funds, he/she will have to pay a sizable amount of money for both studies and living costs. With the South African economy on a down slope, the Rand is weakening against the Dollar while the Chinese Yuan is holding steady. This means that the student is incurring a loss just by the exchange rate.
What does this mean for South Africa? As the young medical practitioners scramble to get their education abroad, their home nation will immediately suffer a decrease in doctors. In the case of South Africa, the shortage of doctors is hitting critical levels. This has resulted in overcrowded hospitals, long waiting periods, and over-worked medical staff.
It has also given criminals an opportunity to exploit the situation and pose as fake doctors. This not only endangers the lives of patients, but also damages South Africa’s economy and medical integrity.
Sep 21, 2017 0
Special coverage on China's Two Party Sessions by The Daily Mail - People's Daily