Task Shifting to tackle medical emergencies

Attracting and retaining talent is always a key challenge for all industries. The challenge gets amplified when dealing with skill shortages in  emergency health workers and the region under discussion in African countries.

Ethiopia understanding the gravity of the problem is using ‘Task Shifting’ as a prudent innovative approach to tackle the skill challenge.

Across most of sub-saharan Africa, like Ethiopia, medical doctors are scarce and are always in more lucrative places leaving several regional areas exposed without adequate care in areas like emergency services and in specific maternity related emergencies.

Risk – Reward  model for Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers

Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers (IESO) initiative is meant for the reduction of the overwhelming maternal, prenatal and infant mortality rates and trauma related morbidities and mortalities.

Task-shifting from doctors and other highly qualified personnel to health workers with less training and fewer qualifications aims to make more efficient use of the resources available in Ethiopia. Studies have shown that the surgical outcomes of properly trained and supported non physician clinicians are comparable to those of doctors. Moreover, by performing the emergency interventions at rural health centres, the clinicians are helping cut the cost of referrals to regional hospitals.

Ethiopia has devised a specialist course, an MSc program in integrated emergency surgery intended to achieve one of the millennium development goals (MDG): reducing the overwhelming maternal mortality ratio and perinatal mortality rate at the local and national level.

Though faced with severe resistance from Surgeons, based on the results slowly the Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers (IESO) ae finding more acceptance across regions.

This model provides several interesting insights and puts forward task shifting as a key solution option for several other industries which face similar sorts of challenges.

ResonVate Thought

Task shifting helps Ethiopian healthcare workers to tackle emergency skill shortages

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