Original Research

Institutional, gender and racial profiles of South African optometrists

U. Nirghin, N. Ebrahim Khan, K. P. Mashige
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 70, No 3 | a107 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v70i3.107 | © 2011 U. Nirghin, N. Ebrahim Khan, K. P. Mashige | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2011 | Published: 11 December 2011

About the author(s)

U. Nirghin, Discipline of Optometry, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
N. Ebrahim Khan, Discipline of Optometry, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
K. P. Mashige, Discipline of Optometry, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Abstract

This paper sets out to profile optometric gradu-ates in South Africa. The 2008 register of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) was used to identify the number of registered optometrists, their qualifications and institutions where they obtained their primary optometry qualification. The gender and racial profiles of these optometrists were obtained from the institutions where they qualified. A comparison of the profiles ofthe registered practitioners pre-democracy (1930-1994) and post-democracy (1995-2008) was made. Few (28.1%) of the optometrists were trained in the years 1930-1994, while the rest (71.9%) were trained from 1995-2008. During the period of1930-1994, 64.2% of the optometrists were males and 35.8% were females and from 1995 to 2008, the gender profile changed to 66.4% females and 33.6% males. In the pre-democracy period (1930-1994), almost three quarters (74%) of the registered optometrists were White, 15.3% were Indians, 7.9% were Black and 2.8% were Coloured. Many (56.9%) that were registered pre-1994 were trained at the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR), 17.1% were trained at the University of Durban Westville (UDW), 11.9% at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), 6.7% at the University of the
North (UNIN) and 7.4% had trained in institutions outside South Africa. The percentage of White optometrists post-democracy (1995-2008) decreased to 44.3%, while those of Indians increased to 22%, Blacks increased to 28.9% and Coloured to 4.8%. Almost half (48.2%) of the optometrists in the post-apartheid era (1995-2008) were trained at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), TWR and RAU, 21.5% at UDW and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), 23.7% at UNIN and the University of Limpopo (UL), 4% at the University of Free State (UFS) and others (2.6%) had trained outside South Africa. As at 2008, the majority (51.7%)
of all registered optometrists were White, 22.2% were Black, 21.9% were Indian while 4.2% were Coloured and included 57.8% females and 42.2% males. The results of this study indicate that the
number of females in all racial categories has increased post-democracy. Although the number of Black optometrists has increased in the post-democracy era, the increase does not yet reflect the national population distribution. Optometry departments need to improve on the equity targets.(S Afr Optom 2011 70(3) 123-128)


Keywords

Optometrists; race; gender; equity; optometry institutions

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