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Training and deployment of medical doctors in Tanzania post-1990s health sector reforms: assessing the achievements
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. Department of Development Studies, School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8114-4705
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2017 (English)In: Human Resources for Health, ISSN 1478-4491, E-ISSN 1478-4491, Vol. 15, article id 27Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: The shortage of a skilled health workforce is a global crisis. International efforts to combat the crisis have shown few benefits; therefore, more country-specific efforts are required. Tanzania adopted health sector reforms in the 1990s to ensure, among other things, availability of an adequate skilled health workforce. Little is documented on how the post-reform training and deployment of medical doctors (MDs) have contributed to resolving Tanzania's shortage of doctors. The study aims to assess achievements in training and deployment of MDs in Tanzania about 20 years since the 1990s health sector reforms.

METHODS: We developed a human resource for health (HRH) conceptual model to study achievements in the training and deployment of MDs by using the concepts of supply and demand. We analysed secondary data to document the number of MDs trained in Tanzania and abroad, and the number of MDs recommended for the health sector from 1992 to 2011. A cross-sectional survey conducted in all regions of the country established the number of MDs available by 2011.

RESULTS: By 1992, Tanzania had 1265 MDs working in the country. From 1992 to 2010, 2622 MDs graduated both locally and abroad. This translates into 3887 MDs by 2011. Tanzania needs between 3326 and 5535 MDs. Our survey captured 1299 MDs working throughout the country. This number is less than 40% of all MDs trained in and needed for Tanzania by 2011. Maldistribution favouring big cities was evident; the eastern zone with less than 30% of the population hosts more than 50% of all MDs. No information was available on the more than 60% of MDs uncaptured by our survey.

CONCLUSIONS: Two decades after the reforms, the number of MDs trained in Tanzania has increased sevenfold per year. Yet, the number and geographical distribution of MDs practicing in the country has remained the same as before the reforms. HRH planning should consider the three stages of health workforce development conceptualized under the demand and supply model. Auditing and improvement of the HRH database is highly recommended in dealing with Tanzania's MD crisis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 15, article id 27
Keywords [en]
Health sector reforms, Human resource for health model, Medical doctors, Planning, Shortage of doctors, Training and deployment
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-138467DOI: 10.1186/s12960-017-0202-7ISI: 000411104500001PubMedID: 28376823OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-138467DiVA, id: diva2:1135581
Available from: 2017-08-23 Created: 2017-08-23 Last updated: 2018-09-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Health workforce development post-1990s health sector reforms: the case of medical doctors in Tanzania
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Health workforce development post-1990s health sector reforms: the case of medical doctors in Tanzania
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Health systems in many low- and middle-income countries suffer from critical shortages and inequitable geographical distribution of the health workforce. Since the 1940s, many low- and middle-income countries have passed through different regimes of health sector reforms; the most recent one was in the 1990s. Tanzania is a good example of these countries. From the 1990s, Tanzania has been implementing the third generation of health sector reforms. This thesis analysed the health workforce development following the 1990s health sector reforms in Tanzania.

Methods: An exploratory case study employing both quantitative and qualitative research approaches was used to analyse the training, deployment, and retention of medical doctors about two decades following the 1990s healthsector reforms. The quantitative approach involved analysis of graduation books and records from the Medical Council of Tanganyika to document the number of doctors who graduated locally and abroad, a countrywide survey of available doctors as of July 2011, and analysis of staffing levels to document the number of doctors recommended for the health sector as of 2012. The gap between the number of available and required doctors was computed by subtracting available from required in that period. The qualitative approach involved key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and a documents review. Key informants were recruited from districts, regions, government ministries, national hospitals, medical training institutions in both the public and private sectors, Christian Social Services Commission and the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania. Focused group discussion participants were members of Council Health Management Teams in three selected districts. Documents reviewed included country human resources for health profiles, health sector strategic plans, human resources for health strategic plans and published and grey literature on health sector reforms, health workforce training, and deployment and retention documentation. For the training, analysis of data was done thematically with the guide of policy analysis framework. For deployment and retention, qualitative content analysis was adopted.

Results: Re-introduction of the private sector in the form of public-private partnerships has boosted the number of doctors graduating annually sevenfold in 2010 compared to that in 1992. Despite the increase in the number of doctors graduating annually, their training faces some challenges, including the erosion of university autonomies prescribed by the law; coercive admission of many medical students greater than the capacity of the medical schools, thus threatening the quality of the graduates; and lack of coordination between trainers and employers. Tanzania requires a minimum of 3,326 doctors to attain the minimum threshold of 0.1 doctor per 1,000 population, as recommended by the World Health Organization. However, a countrywide survey has revealed the existence of around 1,300 doctors working in the health sector—almost the same as the number before the reforms. Failure to offer employment to all graduating doctors, uncertainties around the first appointment, failure to respect doctors’ preferences for first appointment workplaces, and the feelings of insecurity in going to districts are among the major challenges haunting the deployment of doctors in Tanzania. For those who went to the districts, the issues of unfavourable working conditions, unsupportive environment in the community, and resource scarcity have all challenged their retention.

Conclusions: The development of human resources for health after the 1990s health sector reforms have to some extent been contradictory. On the one hand, Tanzania has succeeded in training more doctors than the minimum it requires, despite some challenges facing the training institutions. On the other hand, failure to deploy and retain an adequate number of doctors in its health system has left the country to continue suffering from a shortage and inequitable distribution of doctors in favour of urban areas. For health sector reforms to bring successes with minimal challenges in health workforce development, a holistic approach that targets doctors’ training, deployment, and retention is recommended.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2018. p. 63
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1974
Keywords
health sector reforms, health workforce, doctors, training, deployment, retention, decentralized health sector, public-private partnership, rural, Tanzania, low- and middle- income countries
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Research subject
Public health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-151721 (URN)978-91-7601-929-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-05, Hörsal D, Unod T9, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2018-09-14 Created: 2018-09-11 Last updated: 2018-09-19Bibliographically approved

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Sirili, NathanaelGasto, FrumenceGoicolea, IsabelHurtig, Anna-Karin

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