Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/08/2014 -- South Africa is among the top 30 most populous countries in the world with an estimated population of 51.0mn in 2013. The population is relatively young and the dire AIDS situation is having a negative impact on population growth, despite the country having one of the highest birth rates in the world at around 22 live births per thousand population.
South Africa remains one of the wealthiest countries in Africa with per capita income in excess of US $7,000. It is a middle-income, emerging market, which boasts an abundant supply of natural resources. However, daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially poverty and the huge disparity in income distribution among the various ethnic and social groups. High crime rates, and more importantly the inability of the police to tackle the problem, added to an HIV/AIDS pandemic also act as deterrents to foreign investment.
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The provision of health services is extremely patchy. The wealthier sections of society have access to highly advanced secondary and tertiary facilities, but the majority of the population has limited access to grossly inadequate services. Where facilities do exist they are often underused due to mismanagement and chronic staff shortages.
South Africa has a particularly low provision of doctors at less than one doctor (0.8) per thousand population. In 2008, of the total 34,687 doctors or medical practitioners registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), only 30.7%, or 10,653, were working in the public sector with the majority working in the private sector. This means the provision rate for doctors in the public sector is just 0.2 per thousand population. The government is seeking to address the situation by expanding the intake of students to the country's eight medical schools and by sending more students to Cuba for
The long term growth prospects of the South African medical device market will be strongly influenced by the ANC government's policies in regards to the new National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, the promotion of public-private partnerships to develop and upgrade hospitals, the serious shortage of healthcare personnel and an urgent need to effectively address the AIDS crisis in the country. A public private partnership has been signed with 23 companies to provide extra annual funding of ZAR40mn (US $4.4mn) to support the training of medical students, develop management expertise among health professionals and fund local research in HIV/AIDS and TB over the next three years.
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