Is the Role of Physicians Really Evolving Due to Non-physician Clinicians Predominance in Staff Makeup in Sub-Saharan African Health Systems?; Comment on “Non-physician Clinicians in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Evolving Role of Physicians”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

Faculty of Medicine, University Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique

Abstract

Health workforce shortages in Sub-Saharan Africa are widely recognized, particularly of physicians, leading the training and deployment of Non-physician clinicians (NPCs). The paper by Eyal et al provides interesting and legitimate viewpoints on evolving role of physicians in context of decisive increase of NPCss in Sub-Saharan Africa. Certainly, in short or mid-term, NPCs will continue to be a proxy solution and a valuable alternative to overcome physicians’ shortages in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, NPCs have an important role at primary healthcare (PHC) level. Physicians at PHC level can certainly have all different roles that were suggested by Eyal et al, including those not directly related to healthcare provision. However, at secondary and higher levels of healthcare, physicians would assume other roles that are mainly related to patient clinical care. Thus, attempting to generalize the role of physicians without taking into account the context where they will work would be not entirely appropriate. It is true that often physicians start the professional carriers at PHC level and progress to other levels of healthcare particularly after clinical post-graduation training. Nevertheless, the training programs offered by medical institutions in sub-Saharan Africa need to be periodically reviewed and take into account professional and occupational roles physicians would take in context of evolving health systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

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