The Touch Foundation (TF) was created as a secular, nonprofit organization in 2004 to train more doctors and to improve healthcare provision in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of students has risen from just 10 to over 800. The Tanzanian government requested that TF create an expansion plan for health worker training. TF sees a future in which healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is comparable to that of wealthier countries where:
- Every person has access to a doctor.
- Every hospital has the facilities and equipment to diagnose, treat and care for all its patients.
- Maternal mortality is rare and every child has a good chance of living beyond five years of age.
TF is working with Tanzanian partners to determine long-term strategies for increasing job satisfaction to help improve retention of health workers. As TF grows, it plans to tackle four issues that currently hinder expansion and strengthening of Tanzania’s health workforce: limited teaching space; lack of on-site, continuing education programs; lack of student financing; and staffing targets out of step with public health needs. In the future, TF aims to provide an alternative to existing, under-resourced primary care clinics. It will supply rural-based field workers with technology and supplies to deliver quality primary care.
Links to the health workforce crisis
In 2007, the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare made it a national priority to double student intake in health training programs. TF developed a plan by which Tanzania could achieve this goal. It sees three fundamental problems that we and our partners need to address if a lasting solution is to be found:
- There is a critical shortage of health workers – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and lab technicians.
- Existing health systems are weak – transportation, communication, management, infection control, data analysis, and more.
- Too few clinics exist in rural areas; those that do lack adequate equipment and supplies.
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