The report marks the first systemic review of the community service policy since its 1997 inception, according to authors.
Written by the Department of Health, the Foundation for Professional Development and Africa Health Placements, the 28-page report is the product of a 2015 summit aimed at evaluating the implementation of government’s community service policy.
Specifically, the summit discussed community service experiences and objectives within the context of the National Human Resource for Health Strategy 2012-2017. The meeting also reviewed community service guidelines and provincial implementation of community service.
The summit marked the first time the community service policy has been systematically reviewed since its 1997 implementation.
The report begins by reviewing data on, for instance, the percentage of doctors participating in community service as well as rural and provincial distributions of community service health workers.
The publication concludes with a number of recommendations, including:
That an accreditation system for community service facilities be developed, including minimum standards for orientation, supervision and management support;
Amending the community service policy to improve the experience of rural community service officers to include incentives such as study leave, professional development opportunities and job security through multiyear employment contracts that extend beyond community service; and
That there must be clear, transparent and standardised guidelines on the allocation of community service posts. Requests for alternative placements should not compromise the policy objectives, particularly placement in rural, underserved areas, and a system to monitor abuse should be established.
Download the report: Community Service for Health Professionals Summit