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“Hey, is this right?” Tanzania needs its doctors!

You might have heard that the average income in Tanzania is less than $2 a day, but a figure like that can sound pretty abstract to our ears. This cartoon puts the situation even more starkly: a Tanzanian politician is paid $120 a day just for sitting around, while doctors get a mere $6 a day.

Chris Katembo published this cartoon just a couple of weeks ago because doctors have been striking over the disparity. It’s an obvious contributor to the African ‘brain-drain’ in which the best and brightest move elsewhere in search of better conditions (h/t Katie).

Tanzania needs Tanzanian leadership — good leaders dedicated to transforming their community! Here’s a clear imperative for any university ministry in the IFES tradition.

Categories: Tanzania Written by Arthur

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Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

4 replies

  1. I’m always pleased when I see a culture satirizing itself, because it means there are people there taking ownership of their culture, their country, their people. We in the West often have a messiah complex, as if we are the best placed to solve any problem, any where.

  2. Hello, hello – been meaning to comment again on this for a while.

    So I thought you might be interested to know the outcome of the strike. Kinanga said this was the worst strike (longest and most far-reaching) ever. There was similar action taken in 2005 but it wasn’t as bad as this.

    The doctors agreed to go back to work about 2 weeks ago after the government agreed to do these things:

    1. raise the on-call allowance to 20,000 shillings (woo, another $6!!)
    2. Fire two key people in the ministry of health
    3. Allow doctors to access the same level of health insurance as politicians (how extremely generous of them).

    Talks are ongoing (apparently) and the doctors are still hoping for a salary increase.

    Just to give you an idea of the absurdity of it all:

    An intern earns 700,000 a month (roughly $415 AU) but a resident (which is actually a registrar in Australia, they just switch the terms here) only gets 600,000 because he/she is now regarded as a ‘student’ by the Tz government.

    In order to be a resident, as a minimum, you have to successfully complete your intern year, your registrar year and then get accepted into a competitive specialist training program (residency) i.e. pediatrics, internal medicine, obs/gyn etc. So in actual fact, the doctors who have MORE experience, training and expertise are being paid less than the interns! What a ridiculous system.

    Another example; Once you have finished your residency/specialty training and are a fully qualified specialist, if you continue working at a government-run hospital, you will earn 1.2 mill Tz shillings (~$680 AU) a month. I can tell you from experience that this amount doesn’t enable a family to live comfortably at all.(as a rough guideline, we spend 350,000 Tsh on petrol alone a month, just getting to work and back no long trips). Obviously, if you want to catch daladala’s (possibly the worst form of public transport ever!) and spend 2.5 hours commuting every day, you could cut back on this expense…but then that doesn’t actually lend itself to ‘living comfortably.’

    By way of comparison, a lecturer with a masters degree (but with no experience) is employed at a Catholic-run university with a STARTING salary of 1.8 mill per month.

    No wonder the medical fraternity here is so frustrated and disillusioned with the current state of affairs…The upshot of all of this….Tanzania’s best and brightest move to Australia! … :-/

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