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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Phaahla says R2.4 billion needed to fill 2 012 vacant posts of medical doctors

This as the government has appointed at least 2,066 health professionals since January this year.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has revealed that there are currently 2 012 unfunded vacant posts of medical doctors in the health sector across nine provinces.

This numbers excludes other categories of health professionals like nurses, pharmacists, radiographers and dentists, among others.

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The government will need R2.4 billion to fill them.

The Ministry continues to work closely with the provincial Health MECs to activate unfunded vacant posts using the allocated additional budget to enable recruitment of more health workers.

Phaahla on Friday provided an update on the state of public health service in the country, and touched on the challenge of unemployed health professionals and cholera cases in the country.

During Phaahla’s State of the Nation Address debate in February, the minister announced that his department and National Treasury had found the solution to the crisis of unemployed doctors.

“I am pleased to announce today that we’re working with my colleague Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana. We have found a solution to the current difficulty of employing doctors who want to work in the public service,” said Phaahla at the time.

“Our national teams are already working together between Treasury and Health to thrash out the details and with provincial departments to speed up the process so that by 1 April this year, all those who wish to work in the public sector will be able to get jobs.

“I’m confident that the provinces will have already started with the recruitment processes.”

READ MORE: Phaahla announces govt’s solution to hire unemployed doctors by 1 April

On Friday, Phaahla announced that at least 2 066 health professionals had been appointed between January and March 2024 across the country.

This consists of 1 121 medical officers on Grade 1 of entry level, 579 professional nurses, 127 Allied Health workers, 100 pharmacists, 91 Radiographers, 23 Dentists Grade 1 and 9 Environmental Health Officers.

“The recruitment processes are continuing in provinces to finalise more appointments scheduled to enable the successful candidates to assume duties in May 2024,” said Phaahla.

“We are working closely with provincial health departments focused on all critical vacant posts to strengthen healthcare delivery to adequately respond to the needs of our people. We are making progress in the recruitment of the qualified health professionals across the country.”

Phaahla on cholera cases

According to Phaahla, South Africa has recorded more than 150 suspected cholera cases, 12 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death between 1 January and 18 April 2024.

Eleven of the cases were recorded in Limpopo, while one was confirmed in Gauteng.

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Three of the cases were imported from Zimbabwe, with no definite history of contact with other confirmed cases.

The deceased patient was a 48-year-old South African citizen from Musina, in Vhembe District, who experienced diarrhoeal symptoms and was admitted in hospital on 16 March. He passed away on 21 March 2024 in Pietersburg hospital.

“The risk of both imported cases and local transmission remains high due the cross-border movements to and from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique,” said Phaahla.

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“We appeal to the organisers of social gatherings including religious and traditional events to ensure strict compliance with personal hygiene (including handwashing) especially during food preparation and serving, and ablution facilities to prevent possible transmission of cholera and other foodborne and waterborne diseases.”

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doctors Dr Joe Phaahla Health Department