"Bringing health workers into public service on the African continent"
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This article featured in Discovery Health's weekly newsletter (number 494) on the 10th of May 2012. Discovery is one of AHP's donors.
Founded in 2005, Africa Health Placements (AHP) aims to address the severe shortage of health workers in sub-Saharan Africa.
Their main aim is to support and improve the public healthcare systems in Africa by making human resources and healthcare services available to those who need it most. They recruit, place and retain management and staff – foreign and locally qualified health workers – to help more people with healthcare services.
Health workers and doctors make up the direct beneficiaries of the initiative. Of the 450 of these beneficiaries, 120 are local, while the rest are foreigners. The direct beneficiaries of AHP are the near four million patients the health workers serve. These people all come from the rural areas and have little money. With the right funding, AHP can reach even more people in need of healthcare services.
Discovery showed their support by providing funding of R300 000 to AHP. The funding assisted the organisation in expanding its geographic reach, as well as expanding its ongoing support programme to rural health workers. The money allowed for AHP to place, and provide ongoing support, for 146 healthcare workers in Limpopo, the North West, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. These healthcare workers reached about 1.5 million patients.
An important aim of the AHP is to expand awareness of the critical resource shortages which are being experienced in South Africa. The vision to address the shortage by recruiting foreign qualified doctors was met with deep skepticism. Many people doubted that it would be possible to attract foreign doctors to work in South Africa. Discovery believed this idea had potential and supported the organisation with funding of R300 000.
In 2005 AHP recruited and placed 14 foreign-qualified doctors in public healthcare facilities. Because of the successes achieved in the first year, Discovery agreed to sponsor another R500 000. With the extra funds, AHP was able to make 119 more placements in 2006. Between 2007 and 2011, AHP placed 2 130 foreign-qualified doctors and local healthcare workers in rural and underserved facilities.