S.A. Suffers Brain Drain


By Noxolo Yekela

South African brain drain has resulted in an estimated ratio of nurses to population of 383: 100 000 or one nurse for every 260 people resulting in long queues, late diagnoses and unnecessary deaths.

According to a study released by SA Institute of Race Relations the Eastern Cape public sector; doctor vacancy rate currently is a whopping 48%.

The brain drain is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions”

“I left because I wanted a better salary to give my children a better life. Yes, I understand that the people of my country are suffering,” says Diana Matshele, a nurse who worked in Leeds in England, for almost six years.

Matshele confesses that leaving your home, family, friends and children is not easy and life in a foreign country is not easy.

In 2009 it is estimated by The Homecoming Revolution that about 20 percent of the country’s professionals across all fields had left since 1995. Nowhere else is this more apparent than in the public health services.

The result is frustrated, queuing, ill citizens, stressed and tired nurses and doctors.

“The department is aware of the staff shortages of around 9000 doctors,” says spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo. “The department is working tirelessly to recruit and to train new staff.”


Thabang Faku woke up one morning with less mobility in his right side. By day five he was unable to speak or control his bodily excretions and was eventually diagnosed with a blood clot in the brain. He was not admitted into hospital for a further two weeks in spite of his obvious need for high care assistance.

Thabang Faku’s girlfriend, Vina Yose said: “We went to the two different hospitals three times in two days and we were just given pills and told to go home.”

They were told that stroke victims were not admitted to hospital but he didn’t have a stroke, he had brain ischemia, a blood clot.

The economic crisis in Europe and America and campaigns such as The Home Coming Revolution are encouraging South Africans to return home.

”I wish the government would take better care of their staff so we can stay,” says Matshele.

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