Medics in Tanzania
More clinical officers are needed
The southern Tanzanian region of Mtwara is the site of a collaboration between Partnerships London Mtwara (PaLM), a non-government organisation; the Clinical Officer Training College (COTC), Mtwara; Voluntary Service Overseas; and BMJ Group’s charity initiative, BMJ4Life.
In December, Paula Baraitser and Cath McDermott went with PaLM to teach students at the COTC in Mtwara and see the challenges faced in training medics there.
Tanzania stretches from Lake Victoria to the shores of the Indian Ocean. The country has around 800 doctors for a population of 38 million. The fees needed to study medicine and the extra five years of training involved before entering practice deter people from choosing this career. People who do become doctors by this route tend to work in “clean hands” medicine, meaning they end up working at policy level (or abroad).
Clinical service provision is often left to clinical officers and nurses, who provide most of