Community service for more health workers

Pharmacists will be doing a year’s community service by 2001, and the health department may also draft physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists and psychologists into service, said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Friday.

Parliament is expected to pass the Pharmacy Amendment Bill facilitating community service on Thursday, and this will go a long way to addressing dire shortages of pharmacists in the provinces.

Gauteng cannot fill 47% of its vacancies for pharmacists, 52% of posts in the Free State are vacant, and “the situation was worse in the Eastern Cape and Northern Province,” said Tshabalala-Msimang.

At the same time, the health department was lobbying for an increase in pharmacists’ salaries.

“Overall, we have been heartened by the positive response of these young South Africans to community service. What better example can we hope for our call for a new patriotism,” said Tshabalala-Msimang.

Meanwhile, at a recent nurses’ summit, delegates proposed that community service should be extended to nurses to ensure that rural clinics were staffed.

Nurses’ representatives are expected to meet the health minister later this month to discuss the idea, as well as incentives to entice nurses to work in rural areas.

Northern Province health MEC Solomon Moloto said about 30 clinics in his province are “lying idle because we can’t get staff for them”. – Health-e news service.


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