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Training Imbalances Cited In Shortage of Specialized Practitioners

Prof. Pius Okong, the Chairperson of the Health Service Commission blames the shortage in specialized health practitioners on imbalances in training.

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Government has employed over 7,000 healthcare workers this financial year alone. Despite this, there are only few specialized health personnel in demanding fields like entomology, pathology anesthetics and others. Prof. Pius Okong, the Chairperson of the Health Service Commission blames the shortage in specialized health practitioners on imbalances in training.

He explains that health trainees prefer areas like nursing, midwifery and general practice and are reluctant to take on more challenging specializations.

 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of 2.3 health care workers per 1,000 people as a minimum requirement for sustainable human resources for health. However Uganda’s ratio currently stands at approximately 1.8 to 1,000. While this ratio shows a progress in ensuring that there are enough health practitioners to deal with the growing demands in specialized fields, Dr. Okong notes that the number of specialized healthcare workers is still low.

 

A snapshot from the 2011 Human Resources for Health (HRH) Audit Report, estimates that the Health sector has more than 70,000 health care workers. This includes 30,922 public sector workers, a similar number in the private, not-for-profit (PNFP) sector, and an additional estimated 9,500 in the private, for-profit sector. 

Ephraim Tukesiga, a long serving vector control officer in Kabarole District observes that the shortage of specialized health workers means that people in rural areas do not adequately access services, while those working in these areas are overstretched, underpaid and sometimes undervalued.

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Minister of Health Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda in a recent Health forum in Kampala recognized anomalies in recruitment of healthcare workers and said that the Ministry will take the issue of remuneration and promotion seriously.

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Information from Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, more than 2,000, nearly 50 per cent of the registered number of medical practitioners, have sought employment in countries with better conditions, salaries and benefits in the past 10 years even as the government continues to struggle to attract, recruit and retain doctors in health facilities.