By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK A nursing specialist from the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative is due in Namibia during the second week of September to assess the situation of a shortage of nurses in the country. The Clinton foundation provides training for nurses and helps countries build and improve health-care facilities. The foundation is one of the organisations that Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, had meetings with during his trip to Toronto, Canada, when he attended the 16th International AIDS Conference last week. Kamwi said on arrival last Saturday that the nursing expert from the foundation’s HIV/AIDS initiative, Anne Sliney, would arrive to look at the situation and make the necessary recommendations. “There is a gleam of hope. A specialist is coming,” said Kamwi. The ministry has a serious shortage of personnel because of, among others, HIV/AIDS and the increased services to the people in the form of building new health facilities. Although Namibia has training facilities for nursing professionals, the output of the institutions, which is in the region of 1 400 registered and enrolled nurses, cannot meet the demand. This translates into 900 enrolled and more than 500 registered nurses. He said Lesotho was faced with a similar situation of a shortage of nurses until the foundation intervened by recruiting nurses from Kenya, which has trained thousands of nurses who until now remain unemployed. Kamwi said prospects looked good for Namibia to have nurses recruited and trained by the foundation, after he took up Namibia’s problem of a staff shortage with the foundation. He said as a small country, Namibia could not afford to recruit as many nurses as the country needs, but based on Namibia’s good utilisation of funds that are allocated for health related programmes, there were promises that the expert would be visiting Namibia as part of her trip to southern Africa. The minister also said Namibia would get funding for two additional doctors. To curb the shortage of staff in the short term, Namibia has started recruiting nurses from Kenya, some of whom arrived earlier this year. In total the ministry is looking at recruiting 103 nurses from Kenya, which ministry officials have described as a drop in the ocean compared to the need that exists. Most of the nurses have no yet arrived due to delays in processing their employment permits. Namibia trains nursing assistants and enrolled nurses at the ministry’s training institutions in Keetmanshoop, Otjiwarongo, Windhoek, Rundu and Oshakati, as well as registered nurses at the University of Namibia (Unam).
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