Zanzibar – Today, in Unguja, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Afya Endelevu (“Sustainable Health”) activity, deployed one hundred health professionals to respond to the urgent needs around COVID-19. The health professionals will work in four ports of entry and 33 health facilities on COVID-19 prevention, treatment and accelerating vaccine update in both Unguja and Pemba. These experts have been identified in collaboration with the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and are allocated to facilities with critical shortages of human resources and port of entries with increased transmission risks.
Health facilities across Tanzania have been chronically understaffed which affects quality of health service delivery. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Tanzania, the healthcare worker shortage was further exacerbated – with insufficient workers to support COVID-19 prevention and treatment. Furthermore, according to the September 27, 2021, Government of Tanzania Situation Report, uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine will dramatically reduce COVID-related illness and deaths, however the coverage of vaccination remains low.
United States government partnership with the governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar is mitigating the impact of the pandemic on society. Programming strives to provide equitable access and delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, and prevent and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on emergency HIV/AIDS relief programs. To date, USAID has invested a total of $25.1 million in these areas.
It is important that the United States government and the Ministry of Health in Zanzibar partner to strengthen the capacity of the health workforce and create awareness to respond to priority public health needs such as COVID-19. For nearly twenty years, USAID has been at the forefront of advancing the field of human resources for health.
Implemented through the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation (BMF), the USAID Afya Endelevu activity strengthens human resources for health, an area that is chronically under-resourced in Tanzania. Through Afya Endelevu, health professionals have been oriented to work with select health facilities and have been hired in a competitive process that looks at the skills and qualifications needed to respond to emerging health challenges, such as the lag in COVID-19 vaccine uptake and improving quality of prevention and treatment services.
Speaking at today’s event, USAID Health Office Director, Ananthy Thambinayagam said “a robust and adequately equipped health workforce is essential for continued advancement and sustained provision of quality health care and emergency responses like COVID-19. USAID supports investments in the health workforce because a strong and capable workforce for health saves lives, especially now with COVID-19 pandemic”. Ananthy reiterated USAID support to the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar as we continue to collaborate and sustain more effective changes toward providing quality health services that benefit all Tanzanians.