Background: Faced with one of the lowest physician-to-population ratios in the world, the Government of Tanzania is urging its medical schools to train more physicians. The annual number of medical students admitted across the country rose from 55 in the 1990s to 1,680 approved places for the 2015/16 academic year. These escalating numbers strain existing faculty.
Objective: To describe the availability of faculty in medical schools in Tanzania.
Design: We identified faculty lists published on the Internet by five Tanzanian medical schools for the 2011/12 academic year and analyzed the appointment status, rank, discipline, and qualifications of faculty members.
Results: The five schools reported 366 appointed faculty members (excluding visiting, part-time, or honorary appointments) for an estimated total enrolled student capacity of 3,275. Thirty-eight percent of these faculty were senior lecturers or higher. Twenty-seven percent of the appointments were in basic science, 51% in clinical science, and 21% in public health departments. The most populated disciplines (more than 20 faculty members across the five institutions) were biochemistry and molecular biology, medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and surgery; the least populated disciplines (less than 10 faculty members) were anesthesiology, behavioral sciences, dermatology, dental surgery, emergency medicine, hematology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otorhinolaryngology, oncology and radiology, psychiatry. These figures are only indicative of faculty numbers because of differences in the way the schools published their faculty lists.
Conclusions: Universities are not recruiting faculty at the same rate that they are admitting students, and there is an imbalance in the distribution of faculty across disciplines. Although there are differences among the universities, all are struggling to recruit and retain staff. If Tanzanian universities, the government, donors, and international partners commit resources to develop, recruit, and retain new faculty, Tanzania could build faculty numbers to permit a quality educational experience for its doctors of tomorrow.
Keywords: Tanzania; academic staff; health; medical education; teaching; teaching faculty; universities; workforce.