Dar es Salaam. Doctors meeting at the National Health Conference last weekend voiced their concern over the unequal distribution of health workers across the country and the government’s lack of a clear plan for absorbing newly licensed medical doctors.
Currently, according to doctors, there is a mismatch between the demand for medical personnel in the country’s needy areas and the number of the personnel who are distributed there. Yet, a number of health facilities still grapple with acute shortage while there is a high number of newly licensed doctors who are unemployed.
Katavi, Iringa, Kigoma and Arusha regions are the worst hit in the unequal distribution, according to data revealed by Dr Adeline Saguti, one of the presenters at the three-day conference.
Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza regions have been favoured, said Dr Saguti in her paper.
This, she noted, calls for a clear plan on the redistribution of skilled health workers across the country. “As you move away from Dar to upcountry regions, the number of skilled health workers continues to decrease, yet, there are a number of health facilities manned by poorly qualified personnel in the regions’’ she noted.
According to data she revealed, there are around 300 health facilities in the regions, that are headed by medical attendants and nurses, whose job description should have been to maintain cleanliness of the facilities and nurse patients but not to actually manage the facilities. On top of the unequal distribution of the health workers, there is a looming unemployment crisis for newly licensed medical doctors across the country, warned the former chairperson of Medical Association of Tanzania, Dr Primus Saidia.
Dr Saidia told a team of health stakeholders at the conference that more than 2000 newly licensed doctors across the country have not been absorbed into public health facilities despite the fact that most of the facilities grapple with the human resource crisis. The Citizen is aware that in many public institutions, the government has virtually frozen all employment in its effort to control ghost workers. However, according to Dr Saidia, many young doctors have suffered the same way before the government embarked on its hunt for ghost workers.
“For the past two financial years, graduates in medicine have remained on the streets, yet, the outcry over the shortage of doctors in hospitals in upcountry regions is becoming a song,’’ remarked Dr Saidia, adding:
“The government must come up with a clear policy to harmonise the enrolment of medical students in universities, their job placement after internship and retention.”