As the population is increasing brain drain is weighing down the Ugandan health sector, where most doctors are leaving their country to work in Rwanda due to poor salaries.
Everyone knows that doctors are one of the most highly sought after professionals, but there is a lot of brain drain due to poor pay.
The doctors prefer working in Rwanda and other southern African countries like Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Zambia for better pay. Others go as far as America and Western Europe. The same story is true with nurses and midwives.
According to the 2010, health minister report revealed that 13 senior surgeons left Uganda for Rwanda due to poor pay. South Africa employs 250 Ugandan doctors, Swaziland 10 and an unknown number was reportedly scattered in other southern African countries.
In Uganda, a doctor starting out earns about sh700, 000 (150, 000frw) after taxes. A consultant surgeon in Rwanda is paid between sh5m and sh9m while in Uganda such a consultant is paid a paltry sh1.5m.
A medic who was offered a job in Botswana recently revealed that he was offered $2,800 (about sh7m) after taxes with a house and other benefits but he declined to take it because of family obligations. South Africa also pays in the same range.
According to findings by the Global Health at the University of Ottawa, Uganda spends $21,000 (sh52m) to train one doctor. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal in November, 2011.
Dr. Ian Clarke, the director of International Medical Group is one of the few people who have nurtured Uganda’s health sector from the time he started Kiwoko Hospital in Luweero in 1986 and is among the private investors who, over the last seven years, have put in place health facilities that have greatly complemented the existing ones.
His International Hospital Kampala (IHK) has a capacity of over 200 beds. Other private facilities include Kampala Hospital, Nakasero Hospital, AAR, The Surgery, Case Clinic and Paragon, among others.
Dr. Clarke says to find a solution to this problem, there is need to develop appropriate facilities and put in place a firm policy to remunerate and motivate health workers.
There is also a need to develop appropriate facilities as well as work closely with the private health sector if the country is to reduce brain drain.
The data from the health ministry for the number of Uganda’s medical workers indicates that the country has about 2,000 doctors, according to data from the health ministry. The doctor to patient ratio stands at 1:15,000, way below the recommended World Health Organisation ratio of 1:10,000 for Africa.
According to the Government policy framework, the target is to have the ratio drop to 1:12,000 by 2015.