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Helping address the country’s chronic shortage of doctors
Adding impetus to its drive to boost delivery in South Africa’s stretched and under resourced public healthcare system, Imperial Health Sciences is contributing to a project that is funding 100 medical students from historically underserved rural communities.
Imperial Logistics is a founding member of the Public Health Enhancement Fund, the Social Compact Forum that represents a ground-breaking collaboration between the Department of Health and a group of private health sector organisations.
The fund was established as a means for these organisations to assist government in priority healthcare initiatives. The companies’ contributions to the Public Health Enhancement Fund are determined by a funding formula. The forum, which comprises the CEOs of the participating companies, was created to enable the private health sector to engage with and assist the Minister and National Department of Health to tackle healthcare challenges.
The forum’s first project is a R20.0 million initiative aimed at addressing South Africa’s chronic shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas. According to World Health Organisation statistics, the country has 5.5 doctors per 10,000 people, which is the lowest of the BRICS countries.
Following an investment of more than R7.0 million in its Unjani Clinics project, Imperial Health Sciences became the first private sector organisation in South Africa to start a nurse-owned and operated primary healthcare network. The Unjani Clinics are providing an affordable and accessible healthcare service in rural areas, as well as empowering black women by creating entrepreneurial opportunities for professional nurses. Twelve units are currently running in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, and Imperial Health Sciences plans to establish a national network of 250 clinics in the next five years.
There is an urgent need for transformation in South Africa’s health system, where almost 90.0% of the country’s population relies on the public healthcare sector.
Strict selection criteria were applied to the 100 medical students who are currently part of the fund’s inaugural project. Students from rural communities, with limited resources, were identified as candidates. In addition, the partnering medical schools increased their intake by the number of students funded, ensuring more graduates per year.
The initiative’s aim is to train much-need doctors, but also to transform the profession’s racial and economic demographics.