Study Medicine, Youth Told

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By Petronella Sibeene RUNDU The Regional Health Director in Kavango, Elizabeth Muremi, has appealed to young people in the region to consider pursuing medical careers in order to ease the acute shortage of medical personnel here. Currently, the region with a population exceeding 200 000, has 14 state doctors, with each doctor serving at least 16 000 patients annually. There are four social workers and each attends to about 54 000 patients per year. According to Muremi, the medical staff are overworked and efforts to remedy this problem should be found urgently. The region further has 77 registered nurses with each nurse treating 3 000 patients annually. There is only a single dentist and one pharmacist for the entire population. “The shortage is critical and we are encouraging the young people in this region to take up this profession,” she told New Era. While Government recently sent 10 of the first batch of 20 nurses recruited from Kenya here to address the shortage of health professionals, Muremi said, her office is currently training enrolled nurses at the Rundu College for Enrolled Nurses. She could not provide statistics on how many nurses are presently undergoing training. She urged other sectors to join the Ministry of Health and Social Services in preventing ill health in the country. “A single sector cannot achieve health for all people, a multidisciplinary, inter-sectoral approach is needed,” she said. There are many other major developments needed to address the health and well-being of the residents of the Kavango Region. There is need for piped water, provision of electricity and telecommunication as well as transport in the region. According to the governor of the region John Thighuru, the 2001 census revealed that the region lags behind as far as the provision of potable water is concerned. “Very few have access to sanitation facilities, people still have to walk long distances to the nearest clinic,” he reported. Pregnant women and children still walk more than 10 kilometers in sandy roads to get to the nearest health centres, he revealed. Despite the shortage of human resources and transport in the region, positive strides have been made in the areas of community based health care, outreach services, food and nutrition programmes, safe motherhood, newborn care and control of acute respiratory diseases. Muremi was speaking at the Women’s Action for Development (WAD) field day in Kavango this week. At the same occasion, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi urged Kavango residents and the nation at large to maintain a good standard of health in order to contribute towards the general development of the country. Kamwi, who spoke about the role of health in socio-economic development in Namibia’s rural set-up, said that for Namibians to contribute positively to the development of the country, maintaining good health should become a way of life. “We must all work hard to remain healthy in order to be productive citizens. We must eat food of nutritional value and this includes millet, fish and green vegetables which are locally available,” he said. A large number of Namibians eat a lot of red meat and other non-nutritional foods that has resulted in most of them succumbing to different diseases. “For us to be healthy we need to take care of our physical and mental well-being by eating properly, resting and exercising,” advised the minister. Kamwi in addition called upon communities to join Government in its quest to fight against ignorance and preventable diseases. The minister reminded the nation to go for the second round of polio vaccination on the 18 – 20th July while the third round will be from 22nd -24th August 2006 for the children under the age of five years.