[LISTEN] Does one SA doctor treat 4,000 patients in public care?

South Africa's health care system is riddled with problems but a recent claim made by the Treatment Action Campaign's general secretary Anele Yawa raised some questions about just how bad it is.

In an interview with the Citizen newspaper, Yawa said there was “an unacceptable ratio of one doctor to over 4,000 patients” in public healthcare. “In the private healthcare sector, we are dealing with a ratio of one doctor to less than 300 patients.”

Africa Check's Kate Wilkinson joined Lee Kasumba, standing in for Azania Mosaka, in studio to explain how they came to establish the claim is in fact wrong.

We got in touch with the general secretary and asked for the source of the information and we were provided with a document with a broad overview of the healthcare system in South Africa, both public and private. It included doctor to patient ratio's...however this data seemed to be based on numbers from 2012 and we wanted to see has the situation changed.

Kate Wilkinson, senior researcher at Africa Check

The South African Health Reviews analyses the health systems in South Africa and provides good data on an annual basis, from there we were able to look at the most recent numbers. What we found is at the end of March, there were just over 14 000 GPs and just over 4 700 specialists on government's payroll list.

Kate Wilkinson, senior researcher at Africa Check

The second most important piece of this puzzle is the number of patients and unfortunately it is not the easiest number to get to, so it is not very fine cut but what the health system's trust did was how they were going to estimate the number of people reliant on the system was first of all to say how many people have medical aid...

Kate Wilkinson, senior researcher at Africa Check

What they found was that in 2016, there were 9.8 million people who had medical aid and then they took the overall population, minused the number of people who had medical aid and estimated that around 36 million people did not have medical aid and that those people were probably reliant on the public health care system.

Kate Wilkinson, senior researcher at Africa Check

What you see here is that we have a doctor to patient ratio of one doctor to 2 457 patients for the year.

Kate Wilkinson, senior researcher at Africa Check

Click on the link below to hear more from Wilkinson....


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