Tanzania to employ more health workers

Community health workers in Tanzania Photograph: AMREF

Even in the context of the global shortage of skilled health workers, Tanzania stands out as a country with enormous challenges to overcome. A nation of over 40 million people, Tanzania is in the midst of a critical human resource for health crisis. In fact, the country can count on just 5.2 clinical health workers per 10 000 people, one fifth of the optimal ratio recommended by the World Health Organization. Furthermore, during childbirth, about half of all pregnant women do not receive clinical assistance by a doctor, nurse, midwife or maternal and child health aide.

These devastating data translate into poor health outcomes and indicators. For instance, maternal mortality rate, although slowly improving, remains nearly twenty-five percent higher than neighbouring Kenya.

To address the health workforce shortage, the government of Tanzania announced that it will employ 5 000 health workers this financial year and an additional 11 000 in 2013/2014. The Minister of State in the President's Office, Public Service Management, Ms Celina Kombani explained that the first batch of health workers is expected to start working by early May. These new practitioners will be deployed mostly to rural areas where the health care gap is more pronounced.