Worldwide the health status of people in rural communities is generally poorer than that of their urban counterparts. The reasons for this vary, but in developing countries such as South Africa, rural communities are often worse affected by poverty and unemployment, which contribute to the poor health status of people living in remote areas.
In South Africa, as in many other countries, the shortage of health care professionals in rural communities poses a significant problem in providing quality health care to people living in these areas.
Adding to the problem of staff shortages, health care professionals are also unequally distributed around the country. All over the world the majority of health care professionals favour urban and wealthy areas despite the fact that people in rural communities experience more health-related problems. This inequitable distribution of health workers means that those who have the greatest need are receiving the poorest service.