Ailing Condition of Medical Practitioners

May 11 , 2019
By Eden Sahle

Anybody with a passing interest in Ethiopia’s healthcare system is well acquainted with the appalling condition of public hospitals in Ethiopia. Apart from the medical industry's often cited shortcoming, poor service provision, another daunting problem is the condition medical practitioners suffer from.

Following long hours of work and the stress from dealing with patients that are in extreme suffering, practitioner’s are often exhausted, distressed and fatigued, leading them to make poor clinical decisions that adversely affect patient care.

Medical professionals are expected to deliver more than their training. They do not have enough time to disconnect from work, which would allow them to be more rested and return to work with more energy, concentration and productivity.

Apart from a lack of incentives and facilities, the number of medical doctors is grossly inadequate and those in the industry bear the highest burden. Ethiopia has the second largest population on the continent with an annual growth rate of 2.4pc, which continues to put more demand on an already fragile and overwhelmingly under supplied healthcare system.

Public hospitals and the healthcare system are in an alarming state with both a short supply of medical doctors and medical equipment including gloves, masks and wound dressing materials. It is not uncommon to hear of queues for hours if not days just to get a single doctor to attend to medical needs.

Patients and medical practitioners outside of Addis Abeba are severely affected by the problem. Clinicians put their lives on the line each day with lack of even the most basic infrastructures. The consequence of these is severe and far-reaching, causing suboptimal patient care practices.

Undoubtedly, medical practitioners have to care for and improve the lives of patients. This is the primary focus of everything done at medical facilities. This though does not mean that the service comes free or at a discount.

Medical practitioners are not immune from the bitter taste of low incomes and a high cost of living, which is especially the case for new graduates and interns. This is despite compensation to influence physician’s effectiveness being important. Those in the industry confirm that financial incentives influence their performance.

Certainly, personal responsibility for quality health care should be ingrained in all physicians to do what is best for patients. But this is inevitably linked to working conditions, workplaces and efficient management.

Strategies to reduce these shortcomings are unquestionably costly but they should be seen as necessary investments that create value through reducing the costs of losing human power. Nothing compares to suboptimal patient care practices.

Investing more in medical facilities, particularly on equipment, as well as incentives such as access to housing can go a long way to improving the health system at the public institution level. New models in terms of improving care coordination and work in clinical teams must also be part of the policy.

Improved health care service depends on efficiently combining financial and human resources as well as supplies to deliver services equitably throughout Ethiopia. Good governance is a vital factor in making such a system properly function and thrive.

Ensuring high-value care provided in these settings is dependable and effective. The needs of patients and practitioners must be a top priority for policymakers. Improved care enhances the health and wellbeing of individuals and societies.

It also has financial and economic benefits for Ethiopia, allowing it to use its economic dividend of human power. The contrary would be disastrous. A fragile health care system results in greater morbidity and economic costs. The broader economic impact of this damage reveals itself through unhealthy societies and unhappy professionals.

It is time for a fundamentally new strategy to significantly advance the reforms that will create greater satisfaction for both patients and practitioners. The government should work to achieve these goals by supporting and creating conducive environments making health care a priority. Medical professionals should be assisted to succeed to effectively treat patients.

The most remarkable part of the medical profession is the ability to help patients recover. It is clear that the reward of the occupation mostly comes from overcoming tremendous barriers to treat people effectively.

Clinicians and administrators should work together to improve the value of care and effective remuneration. The patient-centered system must create a new system in which caregivers and the Ministry of Health work together in an integrated way.

PUBLISHED ON May 11,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 993]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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