Pretoria - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he will consult with his counterparts within the inter-ministerial committee to try and resolve issues around the remuneration of doctors in the public health sector.
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Dr Motsoaledi said there was no doubt that doctors and other health care professionals were underpaid.
"The issue of whether doctors and other health professionals are underpaid or not, was not to be debated as their remuneration does not satisfy the department as well," he said.
"The issue under debate is when and how do we solve this problem, however, as a doctor myself, I wish to assure my colleagues out there that I understand what they are going through because I personally have gone through it."
He noted that the problem of remuneration of health professionals dated back to 1994, adding that it was not going to be a quick process but a lengthy one.
"The problem with remuneration is like a septic wound, no-one can suture it immediately," he said.
However, the minister noted that while he understood the difficulties facing doctors, their profession did not allow them to participate in strike action regardless of the circumstances.
"The profession deals with lives of people, you (doctors) don't only have a relationship with your employer but also with patients," Minister Motsoaledi said.
He emphasised that it was time South Africa resolves the issue of remuneration but warned that the country cannot be compared with first world countries in terms of salaries paid to the doctors.
"England and Europe are advanced countries with a strong financial background. We are living in Africa and have limited resources," he said.
He further noted that the issue of remuneration involved other government departments including the Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration.
The minister further assured the public that he had no intention of making any drastic changes within the department.
"I won't change something good and will continue with the programmes, which are in the pipeline," he said, adding that he was going to do his best.
He said in his 15 years in the health sector he had identified several weaknesses in government.
These are financial management, municipal infrastructure, human resources management and development as well as information technology.