Niger to double current number of doctors

NIAMEY Thu May 5, 2011 5:27pm EDT

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NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's government will hire 450 doctors this year, a government spokesman said on Thursday, a drive that would double the number of doctors in the poor West African nation after an eight-year hiring freeze.

Marou Amadou said the country plans to hire more than 1,600 health personnel, including 450 locally trained unemployed doctors, so as to improve the doctor-patient ratio. Niger currently employs about 300 doctors in the public service.

The landlocked uranium-producing nation of nearly 17 million has a doctor-patient ratio of one per 41,000 inhabitants and plans to bring it to about 18,000 per doctor, still far short of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended standard of one doctor per 600 inhabitants.

"It's not normal that we have unemployed doctors while we are well below WHO standards," Amadou said.

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