The city of Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa is facing a crisis at state hospitals due to a shortage of surgeons. The city has no surgeons on its hospital staff who specialize in pediatrics, heart, trauma, plastic surgery, and ear, nose and throat.

According to an article posted on The Herald Online, poor pay has been the reason for the dwindling numbers of physicians. There should be eight state surgeons on staff performing general surgery, but there are only six. The city has had to get specialists from East London in South Africa to perform the operations.

“The earnings and working conditions of these surgeons in the public sector have seriously declined over the past few years, to the extent that they are earning considerably less than other professionals working in the state sector,” Sats Pillay, MD, chairman of the  Association of Surgeons of South Africa. Pillay added that there is also a growing concern regarding the dwindling number of applicants who wanted to specialize in surgery in South Africa.

Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex chief executive officer Lulamile JamJam confirmed that there is a major shortage of State surgeons in Nelson Mandela Bay hospitals.

JamJam did not disclose details on the financial implications of doctors travelling between Port Elizabeth and East London, but says that even though the situation is not ideal, the hospitals are  functioning.

[www.theherald.co.za, July 14,2006]