Due to resource constraints in most African countries, very small numbers of health workers care for large populations. While there is one doctor for every 457 people in the United States, a doctor in Tanzania is responsible for more than 18,000 people.
With doctor shortages, nurses or clinical officers are often left alone to serve in rural clinics. These isolated health workers must provide care for 5,000 to 150,000 people, but have only 3 years of post-high school training. They are expected to diagnose complex patient cases, perform emergency procedures with only basic equipment, and deal with disease outbreaks when alerts or lab results take as long as two months to reach them.
While the health system has a wealth of information to share, it’s centered with practitioners and organizations in urban areas. Although rural health workers have their own basic mobile phones, access to information remains difficult. Not only are calls expensive, but clinicians and governments don’t even have mobile contact info for most health workers in the country.