Career expo to attract youth into health sector

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vereeniging - The Gauteng Health Department is hosting a three-day career expo to create awareness among the youth about career options and funding opportunities available in the health sector.

The expo, which kicked off on Monday at the Technorama Museum, will provide learners from Grade 10 to 12 with information on various career options in health sciences as well as the entry requirements for further studying.

Speaking on behalf of Health MEC Brian Hlongwa, Member of Mayoral Committee in Health, Councillor Tsoko Dibane said one of the biggest challenges facing the world today was the global shortage of approximately four million health professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives and allied professionals.

Ms Dibane said in South Africa there was a shortage of health workers as well as a skewed distribution of health professionals.

"Over 70 percent of doctors registered in South Africa were working in the private sector at a rate of over 250 medical doctors for a population of 100 000 which were concentrated in urban areas.

"The public health sector on the other hand has a rate of only 29 medical doctors for a population of 100 000," Ms Dibane said.

She said attraction and retention of health professional remains a challenge for the public sector and the department's objective was to draw learners' attention to the critical scarce skills required by the department and to invite young people to consider careers in these areas.

The provincial department, Ms Dibane said, has a vacancy rate of between 30 to 50 percent depending on the specific discipline.

She further said the department was committed to supporting the process of training in the health sciences through providing financial assistance or bursaries to students in prioritised health science courses.

In the current financial year, the department has allocated approximately R23 million on bursaries excluding budget dedicated to training of nurses.

Head of Department Sybil Ngcobo urged learners at the expo to make the right choice when choosing a career.

"A healthy and productive nation is one that can make a difference in the world, please make a choice, health is the way to go," Ms Ngcobo told learners.

Member of Human Resource for Health, Joe Mpisi encouraged the youth to grab the opportunities that were available to them.

"Make it a point that you at least register for medicine, nursing or physiotherapy. The challenge is on you to make a choice and difference in our society," Mr Mpisi told learners.