Uganda: CSOS Criticize Move to Export Health Workers

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have criticized the move by government through the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health to export highly qualified health workers including psychiatrists, ophthalmologists and neurologists to a Caribbean country, Trinidad and Tobago. While speaking to journalists on Feb.05, Denis Odue, a health rights activist said it’s a sign of failed leadership when government that is supposed to protect its people gives away the few health experts the country has to another country for the sake of strengthening ties.

Currently, the patient to doctor ratio still stands at 1: 15000, patient to mid wife at 1: 9000 whereas for nurses it’s at 1:700 way apart from the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1: 1000 patient to doctor ratio, 1:3 and 1:5 for midwives and nurses respectively. Activists say the remittance generated by health workers exported overseas would fail to compensate for the economic costs associated with catastrophic illnesses and increased rates of death. “The economic gains a productive health worker brings to communities greatly exceed projected remittances generated”, said Joshua Wamboga of the Uganda Alliance of Patients Organization

Instead of exporting medics, they suggested that the government should focus on increasing health workers’ remuneration and make conditions favorable for more people to enroll for health related courses since the 2013/2014 Ministerial Policy Statement for the Health sector highlighted poor wages and few health workers as the main cause for the persistent service delivery gap. Meanwhile, hearing of the court case halting the controversial government plan which was filed by Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) was adjourned to Mar. 02.

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