By Megan Montgomery
Tanzania needs more health care workers. Its workforce is only 44%1 of the required staff, per its national human resources for health plan. This shortage is more dire in rural areas, where 80%2 of the country’s population lives, as well as among mid-level health care workers. Hospitals are often filled beyond capacity, as they must also take referrals from less well-equipped facilities. Patients sometimes share beds or sleep on the floor, and health care workers struggle to provide patients with the care they need.
The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children (MOHCDGEC) has begun a number of initiatives to help ease gaps and improve health services, particularly for the 1.5 million3 people estimated to be living with HIV in Tanzania. One initiative, called task sharing, aims to enable lower level health care providers to perform tasks that would typically be outside their scope of responsibilities. This frees up staff with higher-level skills to focus on more complicated cases and help a greater number of patients receive timely, quality care.
“The shortage of staff makes task sharing a necessity,” said Restituta Kushaba, assistant nursing officer at Bagamoyo District Hospital. “It plays a major role in helping the patients.”