PRESIDENT John Magufuli’s offer to give our neighbours in Kenya a batch of 500 doctors to plug a gap left by striking medics in that country – who have since agreed to return – couldn’t have come at a better time.
We are saying so not to applause a bad situation facing our neighbours next door; in fact, we are painfully aware of the agony the sick have endured during the strike.
To them, we say, Pole Sana; indeed, we empathize with their plight. Our argument is predicated by the fact that there’s very little, if any real, brain circulation among the coveted professions such as medicine. If anything, positions are quite jealously guarded across our common borders as if we are out to fight common enemies.
The current efforts aimed at recruiting newly graduated medics should not end with emergencies such as this dogging our neighbours; it should be an exercise for all times.
Just like drought points to lack of preparedness in the case of policy-makers, the shortages of medical professionals should point to a sustainable way forward in this very common region, where our peoples face very common health problems across the board.
We should therefore join the chorus of those calling on all the doctors who are currently not gainfully engaged to apply for these vacancies; we are not ‘uploading any excess luggage’ unto our neighboiurs; rather, we are rising to an occasion that calls for urgent solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the border.
To start with, all the doctors that may be assigned duties across the border will have been duly registered with their professional bodies; secondly, they will have duly completed, and successfully so, their internships.
So these are competent individuals who, for reasons beyond available resources, could not be absorbed into the Tanzanian workforce. We pay tribute to the Tanganyika Medical Council for coming up with logistical and baseline data; while Tanzania needed at least 75,000 medical doctors by December 31, 2015, Kenya which is statistically smaller in size and population needed more than 80,000.
Tanzania also happens to be producing more doctors every year than our neighbours. So it’s only natural that this country should respond in times of need such as this one.
But our medical professionals will be going to Kenya at a ‘restive’ time because the root-cause of demands by their Kenyan colleagues are yet to be met by the Kenyan authorities. So all care should be taken to protect those of our doctors who are responding to the Kenyan request.