Govt to restore mid-level cadre in health sector

THE government has vowed to restore mid-level cadre in health sector to be taught in the country’s health allied universities as it was in the previous years.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Grace Maghembe, said the move will address the shortage of health professionals in the country.

Dr Maghembe was speaking on behalf of the Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu at the opening of the first international scientific conference of the Tanzania Association of Non-Physician Anaesthetists (TANPA).

He said the government’s commitment to restore the previous cadre came after identifying a huge scarcity of health professionals who were initially working hard to provide a wide range of essential health services in the country’s health facilities at district and regional referral hospitals across the country.

Those health services that were provided included ENT (ear, nose and throat), eye, anaesthesia, neonatal and many more. Those were provided by nurses, clinical officers, assistant medical officers and non-physician anaesthetists.

Dr Maghembe clarified that the prevailing approach was to put more emphasis on health specialists whereas now the mid-level professional health cadres seemed to further encourage the delivery of various medical services especially in rural areas where the government has made significant investments in health infrastructures and modern medical equipment.

She mentioned some of those mid-level cadres as medical officer, Assistant Medical Officer, specialist’s nurses on pediatrics, ENT and radiation cadre.

Dr Maghembe said currently experts involved in the training of these cadres in allied health universities and in regional and district referral hospitals should be prepared to accept those cadres.

“These cadres were present and were being taught into our universities and were phased out, but now we have seen the gap and their courses will be reinstated”, she said.

Adding that due to its importance, last week the government held a special meeting, which involved the Ministry of Health and the Office of the President, Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Training from the Ministry of Health to see how those cadres will be reintroduced at the universities and in the healthcare facilities in the country.

She also urged the district and regional medical officers to allocate budgets for non-physician anaesthetists as they prepare their budget estimates.

“I urge the Chief Pharmacist wherever he will be to execute this order,” she said, adding that following the huge investments made by the government in rural areas, there is a need of non-physician anaesthetists, thus their estimates should be considered in the next budget.

She urged regional medical officers to ensure that government-trained personnel in different health cadres are placed in regional and district referral hospitals to provide services according to the type of training they have received and skills acquired.

“We have spent a lot of money on their training and those problems have not gone away yet, so let’s not waste resources, let them be attached and trained properly and become more competent so that when they return to their centres they can deliver efficiently,” she said.

TANPA General Secretary, Mr Prosper Protas commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her government for putting great efforts into improving healthcare services and healthcare provider’s welfare in the country.

“We are clearly seeing various infrastructures being built in our medical facilities,” he said, adding that despite the progress made, there are still challenges that hinder provision of quality services to citizens and lowering the morale of work in non-physician anaesthetists cadre.

Mr Protas mentioned some of the challenges facing the cadre as criteria for joining the profession that should be verified with the utmost care.

He said the association is proposing the government to restrict the influx of colleges offering the course for short periods of three to six months claiming that the time is too short for training compared to the difficulty and importance of the work thus affecting the provision of services in their workplaces.

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