We've Found Cure for Brain Drain - so says the Tz Govt official

Reforms undertaken by the government in the health sector since 2006 have started to pay off as more medical personnel are now attracted to public sector, the minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof David Mwakyusa has said.

Speaking on Tuesday here, Prof Mwakyusa said at least 60 per cent of medical personnel were now employed by the government. Prof Mwakyusa said further that some doctors who have left for greener pastures outside the country have now started to stream back home because of improved renumerations and working environment. He told reporters here that the government would do everything possible to improve the working conditions of the doctors and other medical personnel. He made the remarks after opening the Third Regional Forum for Best Practices in Health Care for eastern, central and southern African states at an Arusha hotel.

The minister said exodus of doctors from the private sector or so called greener pastures abroad has now been reversed and that there were more doctors joining the public service. "Of course, we cannot pay higher salaries like some of our partner states in the region but we are striving hard to improve the package within our means," he said. Under the Human Resource for Health Strategic Plan (2008-2013) the government intends to enrol up to 1,000 students in medical schools each year as a measure to address shortage of doctors in the country. Implementation of the plan launched last year will involve all public and private medical colleges and will target mainly to address the shortage of doctors.

The current deficit of human resources for health in Tanzania stands at 62 per cent, according to health sector experts who spoke to The Citizen in Arusha recently.The shortage of doctors was attributed mainly to low enrolment at the then Muhimbili Faculty of Medicine of the University of Dar es Salaam and later College of Health Sciences which used to admit only 50 students a year. With increased enrolment at MUHAS (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences) and involvement of the private sector, at least 350 doctors are now enrolled for training in local universities in Tanzania.Prof Mwakyusa said many African countries were still far behind in the attainment of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) in the health sector. However, he stated that some countries such as Tanzania, have recorded successes in reduction in child mortality. "Indeed some critics of the MDG countdown have challenged our current 'health for half targets' and are asking 'what about the other half?' The underlying call is to scale up equitable access in line with our cherished dreams of health for all," the minister pointed out.

Speaking during the meeting, the Arusha regional commissioner Isidore Shirima noted that some achievements made by the region in the health sector as including reduction of infant mortality from 319 to 213 and maternal mortality rate to 91 per 100,000 from 150 per 100,0000.The region has also seen the increase of health facility deliveries from 50 to 56 per cent and family planning acceptance reaching 41 per cent from 31 per cent some years back.

Reported by Zephania Ubwani  on 17 September 2009 via Allafrica.com