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Second edition of the World Young Doctors’ Day: The working conditions of young doctors, a clear and still present UHC threat in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Arsène Kpangon
on June 26, 2014

By Arsène Kpangon (EV 2013)

The World Young Doctors’ Organization (WYDO) was founded on 24 June 2011. It provides a forum for young doctors to share their ideas, concerns and experiences. The organization already counts members from 28 countries, according to its website. After last year’s inaugural World Young Doctors’ Day (WYDD),  with the theme ‘Internet, Social Media and Medicine’, this year’s event focused on the working conditions of young doctors. The meeting took again place on 24 June. Many events were planned by WYDO such as an online awareness raising campaign, a young doctors’ café, the launch of a WYDO global working group on working conditions,  seminars, workshops, … you name it.

On 24 June, medics from Benin, Mali, Guinea,  Ivory Coast, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon all  joined in Dakar, Senegal,  for a young doctors’ café focusing on the topic of this year. Most of us agreed that the pyramidal administrative organization of the health system positively affects working conditions of young doctors in our countries (although we acknowledged there are drawbacks to this as well). Negative points, we felt, are the absence of a real policy of medical education of young doctors based on the HR needs in our countries, non-employment of skilled young doctors, the organization of the private sector, the lack of diagnostic tools to confirm clinical diagnosis, the lack of health insurance for young doctors, the absence of electricity in the majority of rural areas, the absence of continued medical education, … You get the idea. More negative aspects than positive ones were mentioned.

This situation is troubling for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) because most global health observers would agree the medical workforce is key for the scale up of UHC in SSA. The last thing you need is a continuing medical brain drain to developed countries, if we are to scale up UHC in our countries. Unfortunately, the consensus was that bad working conditions of young doctors in SSA are still a key threat for the scale-up of UHC and our health systems in general, even if in some – especially middle income – countries you already see the beginning of a reversal. No need to repeat here that Africa still carries 24% of the world’s burden of diseases with only 3% of world health workers as compared to the US ( with 37 % of the world’ health workers for 10% of the world’s disease burden). Some solutions were proposed by the participants of the young doctors’ café.


–          First: each SSA country should clearly define a medical education policy based on its real needs.

–          Second: working conditions need to be improved, especially in rural areas, by ensuring accessibility of electricity, telephone & internet connection.

–          Third: continued medical education of young doctors needs to be organized and technical equipment of the health system improved.


It was great to discuss these issues with peers from other countries. But maybe we should come up with a different acronym – WYDO.  We don’t want people to think we’re a bunch of medical weirdoes !

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