Non-physician clinicians in rural Africa: lessons from the Medical Licentiate programme in Zambia

by Jakub Gajewski, Carol Mweemba, Mweene Cheelo et al.
Human Resources for Health, 2017 15:53 – Published: 22 August 2017

9 pp. 387 kB

Most sub-Saharan African countries struggle to make safe surgery accessible to rural populations due to a shortage of qualified surgeons and the unlikelihood of retaining them in district hospitals. In 2002, Zambia introduced a new cadre of non-physician clinicians (NPCs), medical licentiates (MLs), trained initially to the level of a higher diploma and from 2013 up to a BSc degree. MLs have advanced clinical skills, including training in elective and emergency surgery, designed as a sustainable response to the surgical needs of rural populations. The paper provides new evidence concerning the benefits of ‘task shifting’ and identifies challenges that need to be addressed if MLs are to be a sustainable response to the surgical needs of rural populations in Zambia.

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