The MWU Solidarity Union has accused Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang of being the biggest exporter of medical doctors. This follows allegations that she has refused to sponsor one year of medical students' study debts should they do another year of internship, as proposed by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) earlier this year.
The matter of an additional year of internship for medical students was raised in Parliament following a memorandum from Pretoria University's medical students to Tshabalala-Msimang. The memo demanded the Minister stop the HPCSA's proposal.
The council hinted that it had become clear there was a definite need for more training for younger doctors. This need was amplified by difficult circumstances and the workload the interns faced in their year of community service.
The proposal required that medical student interns and community service doctors be rotated between rural and tertiary hospitals to provide a platform for continuous learning by young doctors. The union also accused Tshabalala-Msimang of having not reacted to any of the statements regarding the harsh environment doctors face, or the large number of doctors leaving the country.
All are awaiting an answer as to why so many people from the medical profession are leaving the country.
Questions like whether the Minister has become the greatest exporter of doctors in this country, should now be asked, union spokesman for medical students, Christiaan Burger, charged yesterday.
The Citizen's calls to the Health Ministry for comment were met with news that the ministry's communications and directorate officials were locked in a day-long internal meeting. (Source : The Citizen, 28 November 2002)