The SA experience of compulsory Community Service (CS) over the first 15 years has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’, largely meeting objectives of redistribution of health professionals and professional development, found a University of Cape Town study. However, better mentoring and support was needed, as well as more effort to keep doctors in rural areas afterwards.
The report says between 1998, when community service began, and 2014, 17,413 doctors completed a year-long placement in a public health facility. The scheme was expanded to dentists, pharmacists and eventually all health professionals, including nurses, and the annual cohort of 8,000 was now “an indispensable part of the provincial health services”, said Steve Reid, professor of primary health care at the University of Cape Town Medical School. ….more