Exploring national human resource profile and trends of Prosthetists / Orthotists in South Africa from 2002 to 2018

Mduzana, Luphiwo ; Tiwari, Ritika ; Lieketseng, Ned ; Chikte, Usuf (2020)

CITATION: Mduzana, L., et al. 2020. Exploring national human resource profile and trends of Prosthetists / Orthotists in South Africa from 2002 to 2018. Global Health Action, 13(1):1792192, doi:10.1080/16549716.2020.1792192.

The original publication is available at https://www.tandfonline.com

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund


Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 estimated that around 35–40 million people require prosthetic or orthotic services. The Framework and Strategy for Disability and Rehabilitation 2015–2030 for South Africa highlights a shortage of human resources for disability and rehabilitation services to manage the various risks and types of impairments faced by the population. Objective: To describe the demographic trends of Prosthetists/Orthotists (P/O) registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) from 2002 to 2018. Methods: The study was a retrospective record-based review of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) database from 2002 until 2018. The database of registered Prosthetists/Orthotists was obtained from the HPCSA. Results: Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 22.0). In 2018, there were 544 P/Os registered with the HPCSA with a ratio of 0.09 P/Os per 10,000 population. There has been an average annual increase of 6% from 2002 to 2018. The majority (71.9%) of P/Os are located in the more densely populated and urbanized provinces, namely Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape. The majority of registered P/ Os identified as white (61%) followed by Black (22%), Indian (7%) and Coloured (2%). Most of registered P/Os are under the age of 40 years (54.2%) and males make up 73% of the registered P/Os. Conclusion: This study highlights the unequal spatial distribution trends of P/Os which could be accounted for by South Africa’s apartheid history and the subsequent slow pace of transformation. Addressing the existing shortages is necessary to expand access to P/Os services and to ensure the motivation, planning and provision of adequate infrastructure to provide these services. The study presents a compelling case for the prioritization and strengthening of this workforce for the achievement of effective universal health coverage for persons with disabilities.

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