Health department addressing 2,000 vacant posts in the sector

Government requires R2.4-billion to fill the 2,012 unfunded vacant posts of medical doctors in the health sector across nine provinces and. 

This number excludes other categories of health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, radiographers, dentists and others.

Department working around the clock to fill the posts

However, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has assured citizens that the department is working around the clock to address the challenge.

Especially unemployed health professionals including medical doctors who have completed statutory community service programmes. 

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

“Let me dispel the myths by some critics and allay fears that the department is dragging its feet to recruit and appoint unemployed health professionals.” 

Meanwhile, the minister said he was pleased to announce that a total of 2,066 health professionals have been appointed. This happened between January and March 2024, across the country.

According to Phaahla, the number consists of 1,121 medical officers at Grade 1 entry level and 579 professional nurses. A total of 127 allied health workers and 100 pharmacists were also employed in this period. Nine environmental health officers, 91 radiographers and 23 dentists also made the cut. 

Successful candidates to assume duties in May 2024

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

The minister said he continues to work closely with the provincial health MECs to activate unfunded vacant posts. This is done using the allocated additional budget to enable recruitment of more health workers. 

“It is our wish to employ as many health professionals as possible to play a meaningful role in the public health system. [I must] emphasise that the filling of posts is done in line with the employment guidelines. These are as issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration.” 

This means the applicants should not limit themselves to the provinces or districts of their residence.

Cholera in Limpopo and Gauteng

Shifting his focus on cholera, he said South Africa has recorded more than 150 suspected cases. Also 12 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death between January 1 and April 18 2024. 

Eleven of these cases were recorded in Limpopo and one in Gauteng.

“Three of these cases are imported from Zimbabwe, with no definite history of contact with other confirmed cases.” 

According to Phaahla, the deceased was a 48-year-old male South African citizen from Musina, in Vhembe District. He experienced diarrhoeal symptoms. The deceased was admitted on March 16 and passed away on March 21 in Pietersburg Hospital. 

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

He appealed to organisers of social gatherings, religious and traditional events to ensure strict compliance with personal hygiene. This includes handwashing, especially during food preparation and serving. Ablution facilities should also be hygienic. This is to prevent possible transmission of cholera and other foodborne and waterborne diseases. 


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