Her presentation showed South Africa had 0.18 specialists per 1000 population, a quarter of the 0.8 per 1,000 average of developing countries surveyed by the World Bank. The shortage of specialists contributed to South Africas poor health status, said Dr Strachan. For example, South Africa had an infant mortality rate of 34 per 1,000, more than double that of Brazil (13.9 per 1000) and Argentina (12.6 per 1,000), two countries that spent a similar percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) on health (8.9% and 8.1 percent respectively). South Africa spends 8.5% of GDP on health. The availability of specialists varied widely across South Africa, and was largely concentrated in Western Cape and Gauteng, she said. Dr Strachan warned that South Africas specialist corps was aging, and too few young doctors were being trained in disciplines such as surgery, obstetrics and ophthalmology. One of the biggest challenges facing the public sector was its inability to retain the doctors it trained, she said that 10 years after graduation, only 20% to 30% of them remained. “It is clear we are losing what we produce to the private sector and overseas,” she said. A recent report to the UKs house of Lords said there were 765 South African specialists working in the UK, out of a total of 39,400. Dr Strachan said South Africa needed a specialist review, and better planning of the training and allocatioan of specialists. “They cant just be left to the forces of the market,” she said.
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Medical specialists look for greener pastures
While the exact numbers are unknown, around 20 nurses and “several” specialists have already quit in the last few months – or are set to leave, the source added. A spokesperson from Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA) acknowledged the recent staff movements – but declined to call it “brain drain”. “While some doctors have left DHA to join the private sector, we still have highly qualified specialists. Overall, we have a high staff retention rate.” “It’s true that Abu Dhabi hospitals and private clinics offer more attractive packages,” a specialist government doctor in Dubai said. “Otherwise, no one would move out of his or her comfort zone.” An oncologist from a Dubai government hospital who recently moved to Abu Dhabi is the fourth staff to resign in the last few months from the hospital. Specialist doctors get up to Dh80,000 a month in some of Abu Dhabi’s medical institutions. Meanwhile, experienced nurses here are also chasing higher pay abroad or in Abu Dhabi’s government or private hospitals and clinics. “The entry-level salary of an experienced nurse in a government hospital in Dubai is around Dh7,500, which is quite good,” said a senior nurse in Dubai. Government institutions in Abu Dhabi and private hospitals, however, offer a starting pay of Dh12,000. “Leaving it [salary] is not brainy,” a medical ICU nurse for a government hospital said. However, not everyone wants to leave government jobs.
Access 350 medical specialists from the UAE
“We based our selection on scientific ethics only. These are what we believe are the very best of the best,” said Jerome Droesch, CEO of Axa Gulf. “When a customer is suffering from a severe disease, he or she may want to receive a second opinion on what the best treatment would be. Depending on the condition, our team will then select the specialist that would best be able to provide that opinion, and provide it to the customer,” he explains. As a step further and if the situation so requires, the team also offers assistance to the customers in booking an appointment with the specialists for a face-to-face review of the medical condition. “The experts will provide the necessary advice as per the medical condition and his/ her diagnosis but the further course of action is dependent on the patient as well as the treating doctor,” he adds. Similarly, if the customer is not suffering from a severe disease but is doubtful where to go for the best medical treatment, the team recommends the best local specialist, he explained. The new strategy extends the traditional role of health insurance provider from one handling claims to providing medical consultation. However, its an alleged dubious role as the selection of medical expertise has an influence on the premium the same company charges. Aware of the role change, Droesch explained: “The insurance company must ask itself is it a claims handler or a service provider? “Since our inception, we have always tailored our products and services in line with the requirements of our customers. We have seen a lot of instances in life when people with medical conditions do not know where to turn for help.