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Public health is failing— Central and Southern African

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The East, Central and Southern African (ECSA) health community has said shortage of skilled public health physicians is contributing to the rise of preventable diseases in the region.

ECSA Health Community Director General Yoswa Dambisya said member states are supposed to find means of addressing the challenge.

“We do not have people with the skill and training to go into the communities to help us understand the gravity of the situation and talk to the community to influence change of behaviour, in terms of health and lifestyles, to prevent some of these diseases. The high disease burden that we have shows that public health has failed,” Dambisya said.

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He made the remarks during a consultation meeting on ECSA College of Public Health that the organisation is planning to establish.

Dambisya said, once the college is established, the community will be collectively mobilising resources for enrolling, training and recruiting physicians cost-effectively.

“We have realised that the basic training we are offering for most of our specialisation [programmes] is not working for us. For instance, if the University of Malawi is able to train two surgeons only per year, we need about 30 years to get enough surgeons trained,” he said

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Professor Adamson Muula from University of Malawi’s College of Medicine said the college will also enhance professional standards among medical personnel, especially those offering public health services.

“In the absence of this college, one may not be sure of what sort of professional standards are there among medical doctors that are practicing [in the] public health [sector]. The other thing is recognition because if there is no such body, then people that are competent may not get the recognition that they deserve,” he said

The member states that participated include Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda.

ECSA was established as a mechanism to foster and strengthen regional cooperation and capacity to address health needs.

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