Tunisia: Recent Incident Highlights Rural Healthcare Challenges

by | May 8, 2023 | Economic, Social, Tunisia


Since early May 2023, frustration has grown over the state of the healthcare system, particularly in rural areas, after a woman needing to give birth was unable to secure medical service leading to the death of her child. The issue has brought to light again the state of healthcare facilities and the availability of trained personnel who continue to emigrate in search of better working conditions.

The woman in Kef had reportedly been turned away from a regional state hospital due to the facility lacking a gynecological specialist to assist with childbirth. The woman was then refused treatment at a private clinic due to her inability to provide a financial deposit for the services. Local officials in Kef reportedly highlighted the case to President Kais Saied and his administration in Tunis as communities in so-called “medical deserts” continue to suffer similar losses.

On 5 May, arrest warrants were issued for senior officials from both the state hospital and private clinic. Multiple arrests were made following the issuance of the warrants.

Tunisia currently graduates approximately 500 medical doctors per year, however, approximately 400 doctors depart Tunisia annually to take other professional opportunities. These losses leave the approximately 8,500 medical doctors practicing in Tunisia unable to service every medical facility in need of personnel.


The systemic challenges within Tunisia’s medical system inevitably lead to the neglect of the country’s marginalized. The state medical system in particular cannot afford to pay doctors competitive salaries causing many to seek work elsewhere while leaving those working frustrated with their working conditions.

 Economic neglect in Tunisia’s rural areas will likely continue to feed the discontent that could lead to unrest and instability. Inflation and rising prices are felt most acutely by those living in rural areas, many of whom will see significant financial losses this year due to the impact of the ongoing water crisis on agricultural production.


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