The Mpumalanga Health Department is taking steps to change and improve healthcare services.  600 intern doctors are now reporting for duty around the province. The department hopes this deployment will reduce the challenges patients face when they need health care services.

South Africa’s public health care has a reputation of giving poor service. Long queues, shortage of staff and sometimes inadequate infrastructure are some of the known challenges. But all that may change.

Fresh from university, the young doctors will fill gaps, especially in remote parts of the province. Intern Doctor, Dr Panashe Furusa says that they are looking forward to serving communities.

“I am very passionate and excited to make a difference in people’s lives and be able to impact them through physiotherapy. I am very excited to make sure all the people in the community and within rural areas are able to get good health care.”

Fellow intern, Dr Izela Bronhorst, is looking forward to helping people with hearing challenges.

“I am hoping to help a lot of people with hearing problems and maybe open a new screening at Matikwana hospital as there are not a lot of facilities or equipment there.”

However, recruiting and maintaining doctors in rural provinces remains a challenge and so is acquiring medical equipment in those areas. Mpumalanga Health MEC, Sasekani Manzini, says the new interns will assist with staff shortages in the province.

“We are welcoming the 590 and we are happy because they have started on the first of January in all our facilities in the province. This will assist us in terms of the shortages of staff and some of them are from rural areas.”

While trade unions have welcomed the reinforcements, safety issues in health care facilities remain a concern.