Ricochet News

Answer the call – a career in public health and social development sectors

Jun 29, 2018
Answer the call – a career in public health and social development sectors

South Africa is facing a severe problem within the public health and social development sectors; however, it’s a problem that’s avoidable.

It’s someone with a very specific nature that joins the medical service and social development fields. When you decide to become a medical professional or a social worker, you do it because you want to help people and because you have compassion for those around you.

“Caring for those who are unable to do so themselves, is a noble profession; it’s a profession that should be praised and honoured by all,” says Mr Mpumelelo Sibiya, the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) General Secretary.

Unfortunately, these jobs are being pursued less and less. According to the South African Nursing Council, there is one nurse for every 398 South African citizens; and almost 50% of the registered nurses are between 50 and 69 years old, while only 5% is under 30.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa has found that there are 226 145 medical professionals (excluding nurses) in South Africa, which sounds like a lot; however, the Gauteng government recorded 22 037 115 clinic visits in 2017 alone. That is 22 037 115 recorded visits only in Gauteng and only at clinics.

Just imagine what the number would be if we looked at the whole country and opened the search to non-recorded cases, hospitals, GPs and specialist visits. And we’re not even talking about the number of social work cases we have in the country!

“In general, people in the public health and social services industries are already overworked, as there is a greater need for help than there are people who can deliver it. If the number of people in these sectors doesn't increase – it is frightening to think what will happen. The fact of the matter is, from specialists to supporting staff, without people in these positions, lives are in danger,” comments Sibiya.

We see a lot of unrest amongst medical professionals, especially in the public sector regarding disputes that range from working hours to salaries. It’s no secret that these issues stand out like a red flag when it comes to making career choices. But with the right tools and protocols, these need not be escalated to such extreme levels, such as striking.

There are authoritative councils that handle work disputes on behalf of medical and social development practitioners. One of the goals of these institutions is to create a beneficial working relationship between the employee and the employer.

They can ensure that the employer-employee relationships are amicable. Through coordinating negotiations between the government and the trade unions for better working conditions, employees can perform optimally for the employer’s benefit and, inadvertently, for the public at large.

“More often than not, these are thankless and hard jobs, but we’ve also seen the joy they can bring to people who are meant for or called to do them. For this reason, the PHSDSBC will do everything we can to ensure a just resolution is reached between the parties involved. We step in as an impartial body, assess the charges and negotiate an appropriate and peaceful conclusion,” says Sibiya.

So, answer the call. If you crave a career where you can care for people and help them, don’t let anything stand in your way to join the medical or social development workforce in South Africa. Rest assured that you’ll never be alone; there is always someone to help you fight for a better working environment.

You can reach the PHSDSBC by calling 0860 747 322, emailing servicedesk@phsdsbc.org.za or visiting www.phsdsbc.org.za for more information.