Gauteng Health Department Spends R14 Million Annually on Cuban Doctors Amid Concerns

The Gauteng Health Department faces criticism for spending millions on Cuban doctors while local doctors remain unemployed, raising concerns about resource prioritization and employment opportunities for South African medical professionals.

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Gauteng Health Department Spends R14 Million Annually on Cuban Doctors Amid Concerns

Gauteng Health Department Spends R14 Million Annually on Cuban Doctors Amid Concerns

The Gauteng Health Department annually is facing criticism for spending R14 million annually on 11 Cuban doctors while local doctors remain unemployed. According to a written response from the Provincial MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, the Cuban doctors serve across different health centers in the province and earn annual salaries ranging from R1.2 million to R1.64 million.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has raised concerns about this spending, arguing that preference should be given to unemployed local doctors. Jack Bloom, the DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, expressed dismay at the department's decision to favor Cuban doctors over qualified local professionals.

Nkomo-Ralehoko stated that the Cuban doctors were employed as part of a South Africa-Cuba agreement and had treaty visas to live and work in the country. However, the DA insists that the department should terminate all contracts with Cuban doctors and focus on utilizing local talent instead.

Kgosi Letlape, the president of the Africa Medical Association and former chair of the South African Medical Association, defended the hiring of Cuban doctors, stating that they were willing to serve in rural areas when South Africans were not. However, he acknowledged that the challenges in the health sector are attributed to mismanagement and lack of funding, leading to a shortage of doctors in the public health care system despite the presence of unemployed medical professionals.

The Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, has also faced criticism for misleading the public about the employment of crime prevention wardens. During his State of the Province Address, he announced that the wardens were permanently employed, but later clarified that they need further training to become peace officers before they can be permanently hired. The DA has expressed concerns that this new program does not seem to be part of a comprehensive crime prevention strategy and has proposed replicating the successful LEAP program from the Western Cape as an alternative.

Why this matters: The spending on Cuban doctors by the Gauteng Health Department raises questions about the prioritization of resources and the employment opportunities for local medical professionals. The controversy highlights the need for effective management and allocation of funds in the health sector to address the shortage of doctors and ensure quality healthcare for the population.

Bloom criticized the department for favoring Cuban doctors over qualified local talent , arguing that unemployed local doctors should be prioritized for employment opportunities. "It is a shame that we continue to employ Cuban doctors when our own doctors cannot find jobs," he said. The DA has called for the termination of all contracts with Cuban doctors and a focus on utilizing local talent to address the healthcare needs of the province.

Key Takeaways

  • Gauteng Health Dept spends R14M annually on 11 Cuban doctors while local doctors are unemployed.
  • DA criticizes the dept for favoring Cuban doctors over qualified local professionals.
  • Dept claims Cuban doctors hired under SA-Cuba agreement, have treaty visas to work in SA.
  • Medical association president defends hiring Cuban doctors, cites challenges in public health system.
  • DA calls for termination of Cuban doctor contracts, focus on utilizing local talent.