Govt out to address shortage of specialists

THE Zanzibar Minister of Health, Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui has said the government is taking steps to implement short and long term plans to address the challenge of shortage of specialists, medical doctors and other health workers.

He said this on Thursday during a question and answer session at the House of Representatives after several backbenchers raised concerns over the shortage affecting delivery of medical services in public hospitals.

Mr Mazrui informed the house that the doctor to population ratio in Zanzibar is 1:6000 against the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 1:1000, and that the country urgently needs doctors and specialists to meet the demand, following the construction of new hospitals in each district.

“Our long-term plan is to train, but in efforts to narrow the current gap or shortage of specialists, we have requested medics from our development partners. We have requested 36 specialists, and 24 special nurses from Cuba,” Mazrui said.

He explained that the government has also requested seven specialists from China, while also wooing Zanzibari medical specialists working in Tanzania mainland to return home, and already four have accepted to return.

“Since we only have only three dermatologists (skin specialists), five ophthalmologist (eye and vision specialist), and three Orthopedic surgeons (born and joints specialists) as example of the shortage, we are encouraging our Medical Doctors (MDs) to specialise in different fields, so that we have enough specialists in all public health centres, in the near future,” he said.

The minister explained that the ongoing huge project to build new hospitals and increasing population, the demand for trained health medical workers and modern equipment is high and that the government will ensure the existing challenges are resolved.

Earlier, some backbenchers led by Mr Suleiman Suleiman from Kiembe-Samaki raised concerns over increased shortage of skilled labour and specialists in public facilities, asking the government to act fast to improve the health system.

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