Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, April 5, 2016 — Nurses, social workers, and community health workers on the frontlines of Tanzania’s health and social welfare system can now provide expanded care to people in need thanks to new task sharing guidelines approved last month by the country’s Ministry of Health Community Development Gender Elderly and Children.
With just 7.1 practicing physicians for every 10,000 people — roughly one-third the number recommended by the World Health Organization — Tanzania has long faced a severe shortage of healthcare workers.
The new task sharing policy not only helps address this shortage, but also creates a legal framework for nurses, social workers, and other mid-level health cadres to provide critical services, particularly in rural and underserved parts of the country. Prior to its passage, many frontline health workers took on critical tasks beyond their scope of practice because of high demand for services coupled with a marked shortage of physicians. This put them at risk of being penalized or even persecuted.
Through the Tanzania Nursing Initiative (TNI), the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) has been supporting advocacy efforts to develop a robust and comprehensive task sharing policy in Tanzania since 2011. Now that the policy is operational, AIHA continues to work with the Ministry and national leadership of the country’s nursing and social work cadres to effectively implement the new guidelines within these critical segments of Tanzania’s health and social services workforce.
Moving forward, AIHA will support professional development and regulation of healthcare workers as a way to ensure quality of care. Other priorities will be to rapidly address any challenges that emerge during the process of operationalizing the expanded scope of practice for nurses and social workers, as well as to find strategic ways to motivate these frontline health workers for the additional duties they are being asked to take on.
AIHA’s national-level work to strengthen Tanzania’s nursing and social work cadres is supported by the American people with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tanzania. Both projects are implemented through AIHA’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program, which is funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
For more information, please contact:
Country Director, HIV/AIDS Twinning Center
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel. +255 22 266 7032