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Open Access Research article

A scoping study on task shifting; the case of Uganda

Sebastian Olikira Baine* and Arabat Kasangaki

Author Affiliations

School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:184  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-184

Published: 23 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Task shifting has been implemented in Uganda for decades with little documentation. This study’s objectives were to; gather evidence on task-shifting experiences in Uganda, establish its acceptability and perceptions among health managers and policymakers, and make recommendations.

Methods

This was a qualitative study. Data collection involved; review of published and gray literature, and key informant interviews of stakeholders in health policy and decision making in Uganda. Data was analyzed by thematic content analysis.

Results

Task shifting was the mainstay of health service delivery in Uganda. Lower cadre of health workers performed duties of specialized health workers. However, Uganda has no task shifting policy and guidelines, and task shifting was practiced informally.

Lower cadre of health workers were deemed to be incompetent to handle shifted roles and already overworked, and support supervision was poor.

Advocates of task shifting argued that lower cadre of health workers already performed the roles of highly trained health workers. They needed a supporting policy and support supervision.

Opponents argued that lower cadre of health workers were; incompetent, overworked, and task shifting was more expensive than recruiting appropriately trained health workers.

Conclusions

Task shifting was unacceptable to most health managers and policy makers because lower cadres of health workers were; incompetent, overworked and support supervision was poor. Recruitment of existing unemployed well trained health workers, implementation of human resource motivation and retention strategies, and government sponsored graduates to work for a defined mandatory period of time were recommended.

Keywords:
Task shifting; Lower health worker cadre; Well trained health worker; Competencies; Overload; Support supervision; Policy and guidelines