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Resilient, sustainable and innovative systems key to securing the future of health in South Africa

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The COVID-19 pandemic not only placed tremendous strain on South Africa’s already bleak fiscal stance, it also highlighted gaps in our overburdened medical care system, if left unaddressed, could come at a great cost for our health industry.  

“Across the globe, younger healthcare professionals juggle immense responsibility with long working hours, leading to stress and potential burnout – but the report places South Africans are the forefront. 82% reported regularly experiencing work-related stress, among the highest across all 15-countries, while 43% considered leaving the profession as a result of work-related stress;  9% higher than the 15-country average.” These are some of the critical findings released in the 2020 Philips Future Health Index (FHI) report, themedThe age of opportunity: Empowering the next generation to transform healthcare”whichlooked into the readiness of the younger generation frontline workers to manage the demands presented by current and future health. It revealed concerning statistics indicating low career satisfaction amongst our future workforce, due to high levels of work-related stress, poor infrastructure and limited access to information, outdated technology, as well as the lack of post-graduate skills development opportunities. 

During his opening dialogue at the 5thannual FORBES AFRICA Philips Future of Health Virtual Conference, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Honourable Dr. Zweli Mkhize, addressed key factors hindering growth within our health system, unpacked existing challenges, delved into solutions and highlighted opportunities that could revive the sector. He pointed out that there’s a lot to focus on, especially the resilience and sustainability of our healthcare system. The first major issue the minister said we are faced to deal with is ensuring that there are adequate human resources, well-trained and motivated staff of various categories, to render the best necessary health services. Secondly, is ensuring that South Africa has the right medical infrastructure enabling medical facilities and its staff to deliver quality care, irrespective of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Dr. Mkhize also pointed out the need to improve the quality-of-care, referring to the overall conditions of hospital wards; its cleanliness, availability of linen, equipment, etc.  He emphasized the need to improve the medical care management culture within the industry. “Processes need to happen quickly and efficiently to ensure that there are no unnecessary and undue delays in the whole system, eliminating financial management issues and corruption.” said Minister Mkhize. The last factor the minister pointed out is the need to improve the information system and increase access to technology. All of these issues raised by the minister, if solutions are implemented, could strengthen the system and prevent a large-scale exodus of younger medical professionals. 


The above-mentioned factors addressed by Dr. Mkhize were dissected further during insightful and thought-provoking discussions between leaders in healthcare. Some of the other matters that were brought up during these debates were the safety of female professionals, value-vs-volume-based care, the younger generation healthcare professionals’ ability to voice ideas and concerns, and eradicating toxic working environments to ultimately create healthy working environments for young professionals completing their in-service training. 

To find out more, watch the full FORBES Philips Future of Health Summit here: 

Opening dialogue: 

Healthcare Infrastructure: 

Transformative Power of Technology: 

Gaps in Healthcare Education and Training: 

Creating the Ideal Healthcare Environment: 

Download the Philips Future Health Index (FHI) Report here.

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