Mkapa Foundation Launches a Program to Curb Shortage of Healthcare Professionals in Zanzibar amid Response Strategy to COVID 19.
The Benjamin William Mkapa through its USAID – Afya Endelevu Activity has launched an extension of its interventions by hiring and deploying 105 skilled health care workers in Zanzibar to strengthen capacity of emergency response services and build capacity of health care workers.
The FIVE-year USAID Activity was launched in Zanzibar on 6th October 2021 by Hon. Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, Minister of Health, Social Welfare, Elders, Gender and Children who also echoes for the islanders to voluntarily go for COVID-19 vaccination.
Minister Mazrui said the country needs at least 60 per cent of its nationals to vaccinate to convince investors and tourists that Zanzibar is a safe place to invest and visit. “If we really want investors and tourists for job creation, let’s vaccinate or else investors and tourists will be scared to visit,” he argued.
The minister thanked the 687m/- project funders and implementers—the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF), respectively—for the support, which he said has come at an opportune time.
Under the support, 105 (Unguja 51 and Pemba 54) health workers have been hired on a nine-month contract to intensify the fight against the deadly corona virus. The new recruits will be deployed in the entry points, especially airports and seaports.
“But, we firmly believe that the new employees will as well help in addressing other health related challenges, which haunt the country,” Minister Mazrui said, admitting that the country still faces acute shortage of between 1,500 and 2,000 health workers.
The minister asked the project partners—USAID and BMF—to work closely with the revolutionary government in addressing a myriad of challenges in the health sector. He cited retention of health workforce as a serious problem in the country.
“We look forward for sustained close relationship in supervision of employees in the health sector; employment is one thing and productive and efficient performance is quite another,” said the minister.
BMF Chief Executive Officer Dr Ellen Mkondya-Senkoro said the newly recruited 105 employees have received training and deployed to 33 heath facilities and entry points to boost health service delivery, identification and referrals for COVID-19 patients as well as campaigning for COVID vaccination.
She said the project, which started in February 2020, has hired 1,063 health workers in various categories in 103 district and town councils’ 499 health centres in 16 regions of Tanzania mainland.
Increased voluntary testing for HIV/AIDS, adherence to the use of antiretroviral drugs and strengthened maternal and child health care are among the inspiring outcomes of the project, Dr Senkoro said, hinting that the government offered permanent jobs to 40 out of the 1,063 health workers in the project.
She as well asked the revolutionary government to incorporate the 105 new health workers into the government employment to sustain the services even after the expiry of the project.
USAID Health Office Director Ananthy Thambinayagam said the Zanzibar’s ministry of health and the US aid agency are embarking on a new partnership to allocate, build capacity of the health workforce and create awareness to respond to the country’s priority public health needs.
“A a robust and adequately equipped health workforce is essential for continued advancement and sustained provision of quality health care and emergency responses like COVID19,” she said, adding: “USAID
supports investments in the health workforce because strong and capable human resources for health save lives, especially now with COVID-19 pandemic.”
Permanent Secretary in the ministry Dr Fatma Mrisho reminded the new workers to work hard and diligently to bring changes, “We want outcome, there should be a visible difference between your presence and absence.”