The Tanzanian assistant medical officer

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Abstract

Tanzania, in East Africa, has one of the lowest numbers of physician per population in the world, especially in rural areas where most people live. To address this shortage, assistant medical officers (AMOs) were developed in the 1960s. AMOs are trained in an abbreviated medical school program, work independently, remain the highest-trained practitioners in rural practice, and provide most emergency surgical obstetric care in nonurban settings. Although information on AMOs is limited, no evidence has emerged that their patient care outcomes differ from physicians. These healthcare professionals, similar to physician assistants, have expanded access to care in severely underserved areas of the country. With a growing demand for contemporary healthcare and stretched service delivery, more research is needed on the ameliorating effect AMOs have on Tanzanian healthcare, especially as the country considers converting AMO training programs to medical school programs.

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