Understaffed and Overburdened—the Dire Status Quo of Gambian, Ugandan, and Rwandan Clinics

January 6, 2023
Ariana Castro

Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Burning headaches and body aches. Unceasing chills, shivering, shaking. Constant sweating. For nearly a week, you have been under a severe fever and decide to see a doctor. It remains an extremely tough choice to make because there is no clinic in your village. Nonetheless, you are committed to the hours-long trek to the nearest health center. After persisting through the trip, snaking lines of patients are all that greet you. What now?

The Alarming Trend

A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that much of the African continent is experiencing a deficit of health professionals. Only 9% of the 3.6 million healthcare workers in surveyed countries were actually doctors. Nurses and midwives constituted 37% of the healthcare workers, laboratory personnel made up 10%, community and other healthcare workers comprised 28%, and administrative and support staff formed the remaining 12%. 

Only 9% of the 3.6 million healthcare workers in surveyed countries were actually doctors.

WHO measures that densities above 4.45 doctors, nurses, and midwives per a population of 1,000 are required to meet the service demands of universal health coverage, and ultimately, fulfill the UN’s goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. However, in The Gambia, Uganda, and Rwanda, there is less than 1 doctor, nurse, and midwife for every thousand people.

Small, underequipped medical teams must continue to serve hundreds of patients daily because of this shortage and maldistribution of health professionals throughout Africa. As a result, not all patients can receive the medical attention they so desperately need. 

This more so proves difficult when patients mitigate widespread diseases and disorders. Sickle cell anemia remains one of the leading causes of death before the age of 75 in West Africa, leaving millions of Gambians at risk of fatal infections linked to the blood disorder. Uganda continues to be plagued by communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. In Rwanda, malnutrition stunts the growth of nearly 1 in 4 children under the age of five.

Socioeconomic Shortcomings, Long Standing Health Barriers

Various factors continue to perpetuate a health workforce crisis in The Gambia, Uganda, and Rwanda, including weak governance over health workforces, limited resources to promote higher education in medicine, small funding for employment in the public health sector, and poor retention of health professionals. 

Poor working conditions, inadequate equipment, insufficient wages, disease outbreaks, and premature mortality stand as formidable obstacles in retaining healthcare workers. These circumstances have prompted tens of thousands of Gambians, among other African populations, to emigrate to foreign countries—often either within the continent, to Europe, or to the United States. 

Although the barriers are many, a future where all Gambians, Ugandans, and Rwandans can enjoy long, healthy, lives is not unattainable

Solving the Shortage of Healthcare Workers

A robust health workforce involves medical teams that are highly capable, flexible, and motivated. To mitigate the deficit at hand, it is integral to empower clinics with the tools to effectively serve high volumes of patients, improve treatment, and reach goals. 

Doing our part, Frontida actively develops our technology with physicians and communities at their locations, designing forms that are as medically, culturally, and geographically relevant to clinics and their patients. Furthermore, we design with flexible, low-code tools, allowing for our solution to be extremely affordable and take away financial strain from already restricted national budgets. Low-code also means we can customize within hours instead of weeks.

We will do our part to empower health centers across The Gambia, Uganda, and Rwanda by collaborating in the digitization of their medical records. This month, our team will begin by conducting an in-person a needs assessment of each of their healthcare systems, analyzing existing forms and questions to integrate while investigating additional data our software should target.

You, too, play a crucial role in our mission to expand access to high-quality healthcare by caring about the work we do and supporting the voices of those we serve—those who need help the most. When you buy our team a cup of coffee each month, you also help fuel the technology that revitalizes underserved communities. Thank you for your ongoing support!

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