Partnership for more health workers

This week is World Health Worker Week. There is a worldwide shortage of skilled health workers. Within the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership, Wemos works together with partner organizations in the Netherlands, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia for improving the health worker situation. During our visit to Uganda in March this year we took a look at a health center outside Kampala, the capital.

In the village of Kira we spoke with Doctor James Teba about the main challenges for public health care in the country. Shortage of skilled personnel is the most urgent challenge. According to Teba, government incentives for recruiting more health workers to rural areas have not been successful. Few doctors and other health workers are willing to move to remote places, where provisions are scanty.

 

What is more: there is also shortage of the essential medicines that should be available in every health center. The demand surpasses the supply. As a consequence, for example antibiotics are not available in local health centers like Kira. When the supply in government-run public health centers is run down, patients can only rely on the commercial market with its astronomic medicine prices. These expensive medicines are out of reach for most Ugandans.

 

Key position of health workers
Dr. Francis Omaswa, director of the Uganda-based organization ACHEST, is well aware of this situation. Until today, he says, national and international bodies have paid too little attention to health workers in Uganda and other African countries. More attention is indispensable, because health workers are the key to access to medicines and other forms of health care.

 

The situation of especially women, children and other vulnerable groups is precarious. The Health Systems Advocacy Partnership aims at change through capacity building and advocacy. Linda Mans, policy officer at Wemos, emphasizes the importance of cooperation. ‘With joined forces and examples from the three African countries we can enforce our message to the Dutch government and to the European Union as well. The challenges addressed by Dr. Omaswa are enduring, but, time and again, they should be brought to the attention of policy makers and politicians. What the countries need is a national health strategy based on the real health need of people. It goes without saying that sufficient national and international financing is a prerequisite.’

 

Read more about World Health Worker Week.

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