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Uganda lacks half of required health workers

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th June 2010 03:00 AM

UGANDA is short of 50% of the required health workers in the public service, according to a report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

By Conan Businge

UGANDA is short of 50% of the required health workers in the public service, according to a report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The 2010 report showed that the country needed more health workers to effectively handle the health sector.

The report was released yesterday at a meeting held in Kampala to discuss the role of the private sector in health care in Uganda.

It was organised by the health ministry, USAID, International Finance Corporation and the Italian Corporation in Uganda.

The country needs about 46,977 health workers in public service, of which only 28,000 health workers are currently in service.

The report also showed that most of the health workers were in urban areas, which constitute only 12 to 16% of the country’s total population.

“The north suffers from severe health worker shortages, with most of the districts showing staffing levels below 60%.

“Suffering from a conflict that lasted two decades, the resulting poverty and health challenges have been an obstacle to economic development,” the report explained.

The acting director (planning) of the health ministry, Dr. Francis Runume, said the Government was willing to recruit more health workers, “but the funds are still limited”.

Runume said there was need for strengthening the public-private partnership in the health sector, if the country is to have enough health workers.

The health ministry’s 2007/08 annual health sector performance report showed that there are only 46% of the required number of doctors.
Only 80% of the required nurses are hired, and for allied workers, it is 71%. Administration has 56% of its slots filled, while support staff has 61%, according to the USAID report.
Makerere, the most prestigious medical school in the country, produces about 100 doctors a year. In total, the country produces about 250 doctors per year.
This, according to the report, translates to one new doctor for every 120,000 people per year.
A total of 57 countries, most of them in Africa and Asia, face a severe health workforce crisis.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least 2,360,000 health service providers and 1,890,000 management support workers are needed to fill the gap.
Without prompt action, the shortage will worsen, according to the lead health specialist in the World Bank Group, Khama Rogo.

While sub-Saharan Africa has 11% of the world’s population and 24% of the global burden of disease, it has only 3% of the world’s health workers, according to WHO.

As the number of health workers declines, survival declines proportionately, according to the health experts.

Uganda lacks half of required health workers

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