South Africa has a shortage of medical doctors. Whereas South Africa had 60 doctors per 100,000
citizens in 2013, the world average was 152 doctors per 100,000 citizens in the same year.1 Large
inequality in the distribution of resources between the public and the private sector, as well as
between rural and urban areas exacerbate the shortage.
The effect of South Africa’s doctor shortage is already of concern but will be felt more acutely under
the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) plan, currently in its pilot phase. Given the envisioned
re-engineering2 of primary healthcare in South Africa, the NHI will require greater numbers of clinical
and non-clinical professionals with different skills and competencies. Minister of Health, Aaron
Motsoaledi has stated that he plans to triple the number of medical graduates to at least 3 600
doctors per year in preparation for implementing the NHI.3 Training capacity will have to be increased
substantially in order to achieve this goal.