These private doctors will be contracted to work a limited number of hours in public facilities in an attempt to supplement the country’s scarce number of public sector doctors.
Recently, the National Department of Health partnered with the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District NHI coordinator to provide an orientation for private North West doctors interested in working with the department.
As of September 2013, at least 49 private doctors had been contracted by government, according to the non-profit Strengthening South Africa’s Response to HIV and Health (SARRAH), which is assisting the National Department of Health in the process.
Dr. Sheilendra Lala has already been contracted to work at the Stilfontein Clinic about 10 kms east of Klerksdorp. She also attended the recent orientation, which introduced doctors to patient protocols, Department of Health manuals and the paperwork private doctors would be required to submit to government.
A national task team is leading the contracting of private physicians, who will enter into service level agreements with government.
Contracted doctors are expected to strengthen primary health care services, including improving the integrated management of non-communicable diseases, HIV, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.
“(General Practitioners) will help the department to reach national health insurance objectives of improving the quality and care at public facilities, (and) reducing the cost of healthcare,” said Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Spokesperson Nthabiseng Sebake. “(They will) increase access to medical professionals and introducing support information technology system.”
Almost half of South Africa’s population live in rural areas, but just 12 percent of the country’s doctors live outside urban areas. These doctors are also unevenly distributed.
Provinces with large urban cities like the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have at least 54 doctors per 100 000 residents while Limpopo has just about two doctors to service the same amount of people, according to SARRAH.