Editorial: Set targets to increase number of paediatricians

Paediatricians in the country, under their umbrella, the Rwanda Paediatric Association (RPA), have called for the increase of specialists in child healthcare and treatment, saying the current number is disproportionate to the number of child patients they have to attend to.

Paediatricians in the country, under their umbrella, the Rwanda Paediatric Association (RPA), have called for the increase of specialists in child healthcare and treatment, saying the current number is disproportionate to the number of child patients they have to attend to.

The paediatricians say there are only 71 child health specialists in the country, and, although this number is a major improvement from four years ago when there were just a few dozens, the changing times and scope of work require that more such specialists are deployed to various health facilities across the country.

This calls for concerned authorities and other stakeholders to work toward reducing the burden.

Indeed, this can in the long run solve the issue of doctor-to-patient ratio, but such medics who gain skills through in-house training might never be qualified enough to handle critical issues. For instance, whereas it might be easy to train specialist paediatric nurses, other areas such as paediatric oncologists require more than just that.

However, given that the country has achieved much over the years through deliberate efforts and assigned responsibilities through setting targets like performance contracts, the Ministry of Health could look into the possibility of setting for itself targets of deploying fresh a certain number of specialists across the country annually.

This might be challenging given budgetary constraints, but it is feasible when clear vision and ambition is drafted in to direct the determination.

Rwanda has been one of the best performing economies in health sector, doing well in fight against malaria and reduction of infant and under-five mortality, thereby beating deadlines for Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

According to latest Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, under-five mortality in Rwanda reduced from 152 in 2005 to 50 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015. During the same period, infant mortality followed the same trends, decreasing from 86 to 32 per 1000 live births.

The Ministry of Health should set targets for recruitment and deployment of specialist medics across the country, not only for child health but also other areas.

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