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Staffing shortage hits health sector

HEALTH service delivery facilities in the country face a critical shortage of human resources by 52 per cent, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and Elderly, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, revealed yesterday.

In her welcoming remarks at a high level multi-sectoral meeting on human resources for health, the minister said the situation was due to the expansion and improved infrastructure, hence the need to come up with a solid solution.

"According to our staffing level guidelines, we were supposed to have 199,639 human resources at the health services delivery facilities but as of September 2019, we had only 98,978, which represents a shortage by 52 per cent" said Ms Mwalimu.

She cautioned that if measures to address the situation are not taken, the shortage will be on an increase by three per cent every year as dispensaries and health centres are consistently being constructed.

The minister said the shortage was more serious at dispensaries and health centres that are located in peripheral areas, hence the need for all stakeholders to see how best the problem is addressed for improved service delivery.

The meeting that drew development partners, stakeholders, responsible multi-sectoral ministries and departments, was also told that the quality of mid-level cadres was not of the needed quality, which the minister attributed to an old curriculum.

“The training programme in the health sector based on an old curriculum, and so the graduates, especially in the mid career, does not match with the changing horizon in the health sector,” said Ms Mwalimu.

As for the public heath training institutions, Ms Mwalimu said they were facing challenges of outdated teaching and learning infrastructures, which calls for improvements.

Earlier, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ms Zainab Chaula, called upon stakeholders to come up with options and recommendations for the improvement of health services delivery by tackling the human resources shortage.

“Let us all together deliberate on how best we will address the human resources shortage in health sector together as one,” said Ms Chaula.

Opening the meeting, The Minister of State in the President’s office, Public Service Management and Good Governance, Mr George Mkuchika, said improved infrastructure had resulted in the shortage; thus a need for balancing the two.

He urged the Ministry of Finance to see how best they could increase budgetary allocation to training institutions since the health sector workforce was central to the sector’s development.

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