My sister is a doctor, she studied medicine at Wits but now (sadly) practices in Melbourne, Australia. And no, she didn’t move there because she was seeking greener pastures, she married an Australian and the job prospects were better for him there. In fact, if my sister had her way she would be working for some NGO in the middle of war-torn Africa, attending to sick and malnourished patients.  I am however, glad that she is working in a safe Australian Hospital. I say this because whilst in her 6th year, she along with the majority of her class received needle-stick injuries and had to go onto ARV’s. Delightful!

The stories she told me about under-equipped wards and lethargic nurses were distant, yet familiar memories of my community service year as a dietician at Prince Mshiyeni hospital. I remember the doctors working several, double shifts in one week, walking around like zombies from ward to ward! It was just a case of too many patients, not enough doctors. And it seems like little has changed since then. In the past two weeks, The Mercury newspaper has run two stories about doctors from Prince Msihyeni and Mahatma Gahandi Hospitals, protesting against poor working conditions and salaries. Junior doctors earn a basic salary of about R9700 and senior doctors earn about R16000 per month. The government has offered public sector doctors an increase of 5%. Whoppeeee, that’s a piddley little R485 for a junior doctor and an extra R800 for senior doctors. And we wonder why there is a Brain Drain. For goodness sake pay the doctors more! Maybe then they won’t piss off to other countries to make a decent living. I’m glad they are protesting, it’s such a thankless job and this country needs them. JZ, lets sort this out please?

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