JPM: Why we buy equipment more, and train doctors less

21Feb 2020
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
JPM: Why we buy equipment more, and train doctors less

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday defended his heavy investments in medical equipment than human resources, saying training more doctors without tools would amount to wastage of meagre resources.

President John Magufuli addresses a general meeting of the Medical Association of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Photo: State House

Addressing a gathering to mark 55 years of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) in Dar es Salaam, the Head of State said shortage of medical equipment and medicines in the country far overweighs that of doctors.

“My position is that we better have fewer doctors with vital equipment than having more doctors without tools,” he said.

During the event the president announced that the government was going to employ 1000 medical doctors in the coming financial year, underlining that this was just the begging. The current 2,700 trained doctors who are now unemployed will ultimately be absorbed in the system.

He said the government was doing all it can to ensure that the working environment for doctors and other health workers is improved.

Earlier, the doctors listed a number of grievances and challenges which they said was affecting the provision of quality healthcare in the country.

The president said the grievances were a reflection of what is needed to be fixed to attain quality healthcare.

The president said the health sector was a sensitive sector saying the African continent loses about 2trn/- due to diseases.

The government had spent about 59bn/- to build new referral hospitals countrywide and over 300 other new health centres, he stated.

 A meeting delegate saying he was leader of the pharmacists said there are challenges impeding investment in the pharmaceutical industry, among which are bureaucracy and over regulation. These   ought to be worked upon, the delegate intoned.

Tanzania has a shortage of 3,460 doctors (55 per cent of total needs) as the World Health Organization (WHO) requires that developing countries such as Tanzania ought to have one doctor for 8000 people in total.

Research conducted in 2016 showed that more medical doctors were qualifying than the government can employ in the public health system.

 Over 60 per cent of medical graduates who were trained locally and abroad have not been employed, it affirmed.

For ten years up to 2010 over 2,200 doctors graduated from medical schools but over 1,100 were not working in hospitals, the data indicated.

While some medical doctors are unemployed, others shifted to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research institutions, ditching   poor pay and unfriendly working conditions in hospitals, the report added.