KEETMANSHOOP – The Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi feels let down by staff members entrusted with the implementation of the nurses diploma training course in Keetmanshoop, which was supposed to start in April last year. The programme was only launched a day before the new year, after numerous postponements.
“When by April they told me that it was not done, I figured it was okay because I knew students still had to be bonded, but when June came their (administrative staff in the //Karas Region) excuses held no water. And then in October the governor [Bernadus Swartbooi] asked me about the training again, but by this time I felt sabotaged. I felt sabotaged because everything was in order, the logistics were in place and the course was already approved by cabinet, but for one or other reason the training failed to come off the ground,” Kamwi said in an exclusive interview with New Era on the day of launching the programme.
Kamwi described the delays as “unnecessary” and explained that it was because of so many delays that he poured his heart out about his concerns to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who then intervened by directing that the launch be done before the dawn of the new year.
On October 07, 2013 Kamwi blamed bureaucracy for the delay in registered nurses’ training in the south which was supposed to have commenced at the Keetmanshoop Regional Health Training Centre in April of the same year, saying he was at pains to understand why the training could not start.
Meanwhile, Kamwi expressed his optimism that the commencement of the training in which 90 students will be recruited per year would contribute greatly to alleviate the shortage of medical staff, in particular registered nurses.
He also explained that nurses would once again be trained like they were before independence under the so-called ‘block system’.
According to Kamwi, the shortage of well trained staff in the country stems from student nurses studying at the University of Namibia under a new programme with no ‘block system’, which ultimately meant night duty and the allowances for working extra hours fell away.
The night duty, and the allowances that went with it, not only sharpened skills of trainee nurses but served as incentives for prospective nurses in the country.
“That explains partially the reason for the quality of graduates who have not been trained in a health facility environment, undermining greater access to clinical training and exposure to various health conditions,” Kamwi emphasised.
Meanwhile, in the face of the dire medical staff shortage in the country Unam produced 428 registered nurses between 2008 and 2011, a number which is but just a drop in the bucket.
“It is our obligation to continue to train and produce competent and responsive human resources,” said Kamwi.
He also cautioned that in light of Namibia’s unemployment, the country can no longer afford to recruit from outside and should begin to educate its own people, hence the introduction of this National Registered Nurse Diploma training project that will be offered at three training centres – Windhoek, Rundu and Keetmanshoop.
It is expected that 1 080 nurses will be trained by the end of the project which will run for six years.
A presidential commission of inquiry into the activities, affairs, management and operations of the Ministry of Health and Social Services stated that “there is an acute and critical shortage of health professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, and many hospitals and health centres are headed by foreign professionals”.
It was therefore recommended that the ministry train more health professionals locally in order to saturate the job market and satisfy both the public and private subsectors.