Kampala. Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has revealed that they are in the process of registering a company to export doctors to other countries following the failure by government to absorb doctors in the country.
Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the president of the association, made the remarks during the special consultation on governance for health in Africa in Kampala at the weekend.
“Doctors are not being absorbed in the country, with the biggest employer being government. We have 130 district service commissions coupled with nepotism that frustrates the process,” Dr Obuku said.
“We should be able to take advantage of that market, it pays better and the doctors can bring this money to our country. Better still, the government can engage the United Kingdom (UK) and we expand our medical schools, train medical personnel for Uganda and also for the UK, but agree that part of that money is used to build capacity in Uganda,” Dr Obuku said.
Some of the targeted markets include Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, among others.
Despite this move, Uganda still has an acute shortage of doctors in the health service.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that the recommended doctor to patient ratio is 1:1000, which means Uganda needs at least 40,000 doctors for its estimated 40 million people.
UMA hopes this move will drive government to commit its self to hiring doctors.
Mr Rogo Khama, a lead health specialist in World Bank group, said: “Other professionals do not rely on the public sector as we do….. but rather than let these people go, lets us solve the problem and give them jobs here......”
Mr Robert Odedo, a chief operating officer at African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), said government should increase the absorption capacity to prevent doctors from migrating.
“Government should recruit more doctors. It used to happen annually. These days, the recruitment is not as frequent as it used to be besides they are replacing those who have left rather than bringing in new cadre,” Mr Odedo said.
A study done by ACHEST, indicates that at least 150 doctors graduate from Makerere University and Mbarara University medical schools each year and are potentially available to fill the vacant positions, however, these positions have remained mostly vacant.
The Health Sector Annual Performance Report of 2017/2018 revealed that the approved positions for doctors in Uganda Public Service is 1,200 and yet these are not 100 per cent filled. Uganda employs just slightly above 1,000 doctors in its public health facilities.