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01.05.2014 | Research | Sonderheft 1/2014 Open Access

Human Resources for Health 1/2014

A qualitative analysis of health professionals’ job descriptions for surgical service delivery in Uganda

Human Resources for Health > Sonderheft 1/2014
William Buwembo, Ian G Munabi, Moses Galukande, Olivia Kituuka, Samuel A Luboga
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

IGM, BW, LAS and MG participated in the conceptualization of the paper. IGM, LAS, BW, OK and MG drafted and provided scientific reviews of the manuscript. All authors participated in the review and development of the final submitted manuscript.



The ever increasing demand for surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa is creating a need to increase the number of health workers able to provide surgical care. This calls for the optimisation of all available human resources to provide universal access to essential and emergency surgical services. One way of optimising already scarce human resources for health is by clarifying job descriptions to guide the scope of practice, measuring rewards/benefits for the health workers providing surgical care, and informing education and training for health professionals. This study set out to determine the scope of the mandate to perform surgical procedures in current job descriptions of surgical care health professionals in Uganda.


A document review was conducted of job descriptions for the health professionals responsible for surgical service delivery in the Ugandan Health care system. The job descriptions were extracted and subjected to a qualitative content data analysis approach using a text based RQDA package of the open source R statistical computing software.


It was observed that there was no explicit mention of assignment of delivery of surgical services to a particular cadre. Instead the bulk of direct patient related care, including surgical attention, was assigned to the lower cadres, in particular the medical officer. Senior cadres were assigned to perform predominantly advisory and managerial roles in the health care system. In addition, a no cost opportunity to task shift surgical service delivery to the senior clinical officers was identified.


There is a need to specifically assign the mandate to provide surgical care tasks, according to degree of complexity, to adequately trained cadres of health workers. Health professionals’ current job descriptions are not explicit, and therefore do not adequately support proper training, deployment, defined scope of practice, and remuneration for equitable surgical service delivery in Uganda. Such deliberate assignment of mandates will provide a means of increasing surgical service delivery through further optimisation of the available human resources for health.
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