Uganda: Addressing Migration of Nurses

Health authorities in Uganda have their work cut out for them following reports that nurses are leaving the country for jobs overseas.

Development Diaries reports that this development is already creating a shortage in the East African country’s healthcare system.

It is understood that Uganda produces about 5,000 nurses every year, and only about 2,000 of that number are employed in government hospitals.

With regard to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, at least 2.5 medical staff (physicians, nurses and midwives) per 1,000 people are needed to provide adequate coverage with primary care interventions.

But how many African countries have achieved this ratio?

The severity of the situation is further highlighted by what Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) President, Justus Cherop, said recently.

Cherop, in a report by Africanews, noted that the country has a surplus of nurses but the government cannot recruit them.

‘The government cannot recruit all of them. We needed like 40,000 nurses in our health sector, but because of the wage bill, the government (has) less money, so our nurses are overworked in this sector’, he said.

It is also understood that many nurses in Uganda struggle to survive in the country due to lack of opportunities.

The International Council of Nurses and WHO recommends a ratio of 1:3 patients in emergency units; 1:2 in intensive care units; and 1:8 in other wards.

However, figures from Uganda show that the current nurse-to-patient ratio is approximately 1:1884, which makes the workload unmanageable.

In 2022, UNMU made plans to send some of the 3,000 well-skilled nurses who were not employed by the government to work abroad.

One of the concerns highlighted was that the number of medical workers in the country was too small to offer quality care to the increasing number of patients.

Another concern raised was the issue of low pay in private facilities. Also, it has been discovered that some nurses and midwives are not satisfied with the salaries being paid by the government.

Development Diaries calls on the government of Uganda to increase its health sector funding to meet the facility needs, as well as those of health workers.

We also urge public health institutions and private health centres to pay more attention to the welfare of nurses in order to address their challenges to get the best out of them.

Photo source: Project Pink Blue


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