Group Releases Kampala Declaration, Calls for Increased Funding To Alleviate Health Worker Shortage in Africa
The Global Health Workforce Alliance on Wednesday at the close of its inaugural conference in Kampala, Uganda, released the Kampala Declaration, which calls for increased funding to mitigate health worker shortages in Africa, Kenya's Daily Nation reports. The declaration also calls for increased investments in health infrastructures to fight the spread of diseases, including HIV/AIDS, in developing countries. The declaration, adopted by more than 1,000 participants from 57 countries, proposes that developing countries allocate 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector to reduce the migration of health workers to wealthy nations (Bogere, Daily Nation, 3/6).
More than 13,000 health workers trained in sub-Saharan African countries now practice in Australia, Britain, Canada and the U.S., according to an article recently published in the Lancet. Recruiting agencies use workshops, advertisements, e-mails and Web sites to attract health workers, according to the article. The agencies generally offer to pay higher salaries, cover moving expenses and provide assistance navigating the visa and citizenship process. The practice of recruiting trained health personnel from sub-Saharan Africa to work in developed nations is weakening health infrastructures and undermining efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the region, the article said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/25).
In Africa, training the 1.5 million new health workers needed to resolve the shortage would cost about $3.3 billion annually during the next eight years. Francis Omaswa, executive director of GHWA, said it would be "reasonable" for spending on the African health work force to increase to $27 billion by 2015 (Mugisa et al., New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 3/5). By allocating 15% of their budgets to health care, developing countries would be able to "provide enough remuneration, increase the health workers, provide enough medical supplies, improve health infrastructure to provide a conducive environment for the health workers leading to retention," Sam Zaramba, Uganda's director-general of health services, said. He added that the funding increase would address most of the problems faced by the health sector in Uganda (Daily Nation, 3/6).
The declaration also calls on developed nations to pay a fee to countries whose health workers are recruited, SABC News reports. Delegates at the conference vowed to make governments and donor countries that recruit health workers accountable for the increased costs on human resources (SABC News, 3/6). The Ugandan delegation at the conference also criticized the fact that donors often prefer to support projects rather than provide funds directly to government ministries, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. Zaramba noted that the preference for project support distorted remuneration packages, adding that improved conditions for health workers in Uganda have not occurred because there is not enough money in the budget (New Visition/AllAfrica.com, 3/5).
Better working conditions at home would be a massive factor in mitigating migration, but these countries don't have money," Omaswa said, adding, "We would like the rich countries to invest in training in the south so that we have a big enough pool of health workers to share between all of us" (AP/Google.com, 3/6).
The declaration also called on governments to develop a database to monitor the migration of health workers. It also called on government leaders, health professionals and international agencies to develop national health plans to address the issue. GHWA will monitor the implementation of the declaration and reconvene in two years to evaluate progress (New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 3/5).