The Ministry of Health is set to ease the process of recruiting clinical officers to increase staffing, especially in rural health centres.
Dr Theophile Dushime, the director-general of clinical services at the ministry, announced the new decision during a clinical officers’ summit in Kigali on Thursday.
He said the Ministry of Health is working with Ministry of Finance and Economic planning as well as that of Labour and Public Service to devise a salary structure for clinical officers.
The new move means that more than 200 clinical officers stand a chance to be recruited at a time when figures show that 80 per cent of clinical officers graduates were not employed due to lack of a streamlined recruitment process.
They are expected to work as medical assistants to ease pressure on available physicians since they are better skilled than nurses, especially at health centres, according to Dr Dushime.
Clinical officers are licensed healthcare providers who perform medical duties, including diagnosis and treatment of diseases, medical procedures along with ordering and interpreting laboratory and radio-logical tests based on primary care.
The clinical officers are like medical assistants to general medical practitioners and physicians, according to the doctor.
They are needed for primary healthcare, especially in rural communities where they can work in health centres and also go to communities to interact physically with patients, he said.
Dr Dushime said the clinical officers will improve access to health services especially in rural areas where there are few doctors.
“Rwanda is about to reach one doctor per 10,000 patients and one nurse per 1,000 patients and we want to reduce that further. That is why we introduced clinical medicine and community health department,” he said.
Antoine Habimana, a certified clinical officer who had failed to get a job, said the new government promise was relief to many.
Officials said that a ministerial order was gazetted in February that recognises clinical officers and what remains is to include the Health ministry’s work structure.
Dr David Tumusiime, the dean of School of Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda’s College of Medicine, said that 80 per cent of clinical officer graduates have no jobs, so discussions were about the process to fast-tracking their eligibility to be deployed in health centers.
“We are awaiting the structure of how they can be paid when they are posted in those positions. Lack of that structure is one of reasons for why they lack jobs but they can also create their own jobs,” he said.