Nazlia Peer: Cape Times 30 August 2002
NURSES and doctor organisations have backed the call by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for rich countries to stop poaching the skilled and
experienced healthcare professionals of poor nations, but want the government to make staying in South Africa more attractive.
Tshabalala-Msimang told a plenary session at the World Summit on Sustainable Development on Monday that developed countries needed to commit to an
international code of conduct on the ethical recruitment of health professionals.
Swazi Health Minister Thetsile Dlamini supported her contribution, which provoked no response from delegates, of developed countries.
The Democratic Nurses Association of South Africa (Denosa) has also supported the call, which it said was necessary to manage the flow of nurses
to countries like Britain, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand that offer lucrative packages.
Denosa president Ephraim Mafalo said the body was concerned with the negative effect of nurses leaving the country on the healthcare system, but
did not want the rights of nurses to move to be affected.
He suggested that the government needed to explore new strategies to make coming back to the public health sector in South African easier by
guaranteeing jobs on return and recognising skills acquired overseas.
Tshabalala-Msimang's spokesman Sibani Mngadi said as a member of the Commonwealth, South Africa was pushing hard for the development of a
code of conduct between governments to regulate the recruitment of health professionals.
South Africans have freedom of movement, to go anywhere in the world, but training in the health sector is highly
There is a need to find some way of making sure people contribute and give back to the South African public, he said.
He said the ministry was looking at ways of retaining professionals' links with international exchange
Within the next two months Health Department director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba would present a package of incentives to Tshabalala-Msimang
to encourage professionals to remain in the country and continue to work in rural areas.
Kgosi Letlape, chairman of the SA Medical Association (Sama), said countries losing skilled personnel sought-after overseas, needed to appreciate them
and remunerate them accordingly.
He said doctors going overseas were motivated by factors like poor working conditions and salaries in state hospitals, inadequate facilities and
resources. Another factor was the lack of treatment policies for diseases such as
HIV/AIDS in the public sector.
Doctors also have the right to choose their country of residence. It would not be fair to restrict them, said Letlape, who is a member of a World
Medical Association task team on the international migration of doctors.
(Nazlia Peer: Cape Times 30 August 2002)