Cape Town - About 36 sub-specialists will be trained in a R78 million bursary programme to address a public health skills shortage, the Colleges of Medicine SA (CMSA) said on Friday.

The CMSA said the doctors would be put through an intensive two-year training programme, funded for the next six years by hospital chain Life Healthcare.

“An important criterion for the scholarships is that the qualifying doctors must commit to remain in the country after their training, and to work in public hospitals where vacancies exist.”

Where a suitable post was not available at a state facility, the hospital chain would have first right of refusal.

CMSA research in 2010 showed that 500 specialists qualified each year, many of whom migrated to the private sector or to foreign institutions.

There was a shortage of 4500 specialists. - Sapa