EAC Partner States Short of Qualified Health Specialists
East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 09 June 2017:
East African Community Partner States have a serious shortage of qualified health specialists, recent estimates show.
Uganda’s Minister of State for Health, Hon. Dr. Sarah Opendi, said that like most low and middle income regions, the EAC has far less than the 44.5 physicians, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people required to fast-track the attainment of health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets.
Dr. Opendi said that due to the low number of health specialists vis-à-vis the population, EAC Partner States could not provide quality healthcare to their citizens without addressing the issue of training of Human Resources for Health, both in terms of quality and quantity.
“Inspection of medical, nursing and other health professions training institutions is a critical quality assurance intervention that must be pursued in light of the attendant HRH challenges,” said Dr. Opendi.
“Strengthening the quality of training through peer inspections will significantly build confidence in our training institutions and expand the growth-inducing impact of healthcare employment on various socio-economic sectors such as trade, tourism and GDP,” said the Minister.
Dr. Opendi said that the population of the region had grown tremendously over the years without a corresponding investment in the training of healthcare staff.
“Our efforts to achieve the SDG 3 on good health and wellbeing, and in particular, the target of universal health coverage (UHC) is very much dependent on how we address the existing human resources for health challenges, including numbers and quality of training,” she added.
Dr. Opendi was speaking when she officially opened the Ministerial Session of the 1st Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Uganda currently holds the position of Chairperson of the EAC.
She commended Partner States’ National Medical and Dental Boards and Councils for championing efforts to uphold and strengthen standards in medical and dental schools in the EAC region.
“There shouldn’t be any compromise on these standards because poorly trained health workers will be a big threat to the lives of our population,” she said.
She hailed ongoing national and regional efforts to strengthen the training of HRH such as expanding the postgraduate training fellowships and award of sub-specialists qualification in medicine and other health sciences.
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