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    National

    Uganda Faces Critical Shortage of 187,000 Health Workers

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    Uganda Faces Critical Shortage of 187,000 Health Workers
    • June 30, 2024 • 22 days ago
    in summary
    Uganda is grappling with a severe healthcare worker shortage, with over 187,000 additional professionals needed to meet current demands. Health experts and donors have raised concerns about the impact on quality and timely healthcare services. The Health Ministry stresses the urgency of recruiting and retaining healthcare workers to address this crisis.

    Uganda is currently facing a severe shortage of healthcare workers, a situation that has raised concerns among health experts and donors about the quality and timeliness of healthcare services available to citizens. 

    Dr. Alfred Draweli, the Commissioner for Institutional Capacity Building and Human Resource Development in the Health Ministry, revealed that Uganda is short by more than 187,000 health professionals.

    “Considering the types of diseases we are managing and the standards we aim to uphold, Uganda needs around 342,832 healthcare workers. Currently, we have only 155,000, which is less than half of what is required,” Dr. Draweli shared at a national policy dialogue on Uganda's health workforce, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

    During this dialogue, a new analysis of the health labor market was presented. The report highlighted that Uganda currently has 7,793 medical doctors and specialists, with 25% employed in the public sector and 39% in the private sector.

    Additionally, there are 73,956 nursing professionals, 32,959 midwifery professionals, 504 dental surgeons, and 1,712 pharmacists across both sectors. Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng emphasized the urgency of training, recruiting, and retaining human resources for health. She called on the Ministries of Finance and Public Service to prioritize these efforts, stressing the importance of timely wage releases and swift recruitment processes.

    Minister Aceng criticized the lengthy bureaucratic procedures involved in recruitment, which can delay the process by up to eight months. This inefficiency often results in unutilized funds being returned, and incomplete teams being assembled in healthcare facilities.

    “The health sector cannot advance and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without a strong workforce to ensure access to essential services,” Minister Aceng stated. She highlighted the issue of training institutions producing about 1,500 health professionals annually, with only a small fraction being absorbed into the system. Ms. Margaret Babiwenda, Principal Human Resource Officer in the Department of Human Resource and Planning at the Ministry of Public Service, acknowledged the challenge but noted that recruitment cannot occur without a sufficient wage bill.

    She urged all relevant ministries to collaborate and address this issue, to prevent continuous blame-shifting. Regarding the bureaucratic hurdles in staff recruitment, Ms. Babiwenda clarified that clearances are now being handled more efficiently, with approvals being granted instantly.

    Prof. Pius Okong, Chairperson of the Health Service Commission, pointed out that the Education Ministry is struggling with a funding shortfall of Shs176 billion needed to address staffing gaps in 17 regional referral hospitals.

    He noted that these hospitals face approximately 270 surgical emergencies, often managed by interns due to the lack of specialists. “There are about 270 emergencies requiring operations at regional referral hospitals. But who is managing the patients? They are interns,” Prof. Okong highlighted.

    He also revealed that a third of maternal deaths in these hospitals occur among mothers who are not attended to by specialists. He urged the Ministry of Public Service to lift the staffing ceiling that limits the number of health workers that can be recruited. The ongoing workforce shortage in Uganda’s health sector poses a significant barrier to achieving quality and timely healthcare for all citizens.

    Addressing this issue will require coordinated efforts and increased investment in health sector human resources.

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    Guest ᛫ 19 days ago
    Esteemed Dr.Woldemariam and Minister of Health Dr Ocero <br /> I was reading the article pend by Patrick K. Ssentongo and I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring an opportunity to join a program that we are developing to address these critical issues that many countries in Africa are facing for which we developed our solution to address over the years. All the issues enumerated in the article and even more, have been included in our solution. I will try to provide a short description with the hope that you would consider allowing my partners our Chairman Professor Kwankam formerly with WHO, and our CEO Pennsylvania Senator, and Lt Governor CEO of our international operations to introduce and demonstrate the relevance and potential of our solution.<br /> As the solution was developed on the existing telecommunication infrastructure it has no upfront implementation costs and it can deliver critical services in most remote areas even if there is a lack of electrical or communication infrastructure.<br /> Critical care is the major cause of the escalating healthcare issues worldwide. Our interactive preventive system allows for a doctor to interact and monitor a patient disease-specific with the use of a cell phone to prevent critical and expensive consequences.<br /> When the Philippine Red Cross asked our Chairman Professor Kwankam to develop a solution to address the drastic consequences of the Sanofi Dengue Serum that later we extended to Measles and AIDS we realized the lack of healthcare infrastructure in rural areas and we developed our interactive Mobile Clinic System.<br /> A solution where a nurse or trained community healthcare worker can deliver preventive services in their community using a simple Android tablet. But in case of need, they can immediately interact with a doctor or hospital. Provide them with e important monitoring history of the patient and allow for early intervention or even transport to a facility before it becomes critical.<br /> We also developed a program where we would train nurses or community healthcare workers on the use of the solution and license it to them to implement in their community. This not only can deliver important healthcare services in the community but also generate jobs and business opportunities but also relieve the pressure on the national healthcare budgets and address the escalating shortage of doctors and nurses. <br /> We are also implementing a proof of concept in five African countries to generate local statistics for a $250 million program to be funded by several international organizations such as USAID.<br /> Sincerely<br /> <br /> <br /> Professor David Hold <br /> dhold@etelehealthsolution.com

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