The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Africa faces a "dramatic" shortage of physicians by the year 2015.
According to a new study, it is projected that there will be nearly 13 million doctors by then, a figure that will meet demand and will exceed the target of achieving the benchmark of having 80 percent of all live births covered by a skilled attendant.
However, given the imbalances in physician distribution, Africa will face a scarcity of care, WHO said, with 255 000 doctors in 2015, which is 167 000 fewer than needed to meet the birth coverage goal.
The study notes that in 2004, Africa carried nearly one quarter of the world's disease burden with only two percent of global physician supply and less than one percent of health expenditures worldwide.
Similarly, South-East Asia bore 29 percent of the global disease burden, with 11 percent of the world's supply of doctors and one percent of health expenditures.
Meanwhile, the Americas region, with 10 percent of the world's disease burden, accounted for half of the world's health expenditures and one fifth of all physicians.
Hefty increases in health-care investment and robust policies are essential to boost the number of doctors in Africa, WHO said.
"Given the disproportionate burden of disease in this region, policies for increasing the supply of physicians are urgently needed to stem projected shortages," according to the study.
South Africa has committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are eight MDGs ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV and AIDS and providing universal primary education.
They are to be achieved by 2015.
The goals form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world's poorest. - BuaNews