Medical School on Fast Track

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As Windhoek Central Turns Into a Teaching Hospital

By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Government plans to expedite the establishment of a medical school at the University of Namibia (Unam) have reached an advanced stage.

A stakeholders’ consultative meeting to formulate a road map towards setting up Namibia’s first-ever medical school was held yesterday. The meeting also discussed full cost estimates and how the cost burden would be shared among various partners.

Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi, called for a swift move in establishing a medical school that will see the country attain its health targets by 2030. Top brass in the medical fraternity, University of Namibia staff, Ministry of Education Deputy Minister and Permanent Secretary, medical experts from Kenya and Finland and the Indian, Ghanaian and Nigerian High commissioners, attended the meeting.

“My expectation is that today should pave the way to a systematic process of engagement in reaching the final goal – that of establishing a vibrant school of medicine for Namibia,” the minister told the stakeholders.

Namibia, which celebrates its 18th independence anniversary next week does not have a medical school and will only have a cardiac unit at its referral hospital at the end of June.

Major cases have to be referred to South Africa. Due to the lack of a medical school, Namibia relies heavily on expatriate health personnel from South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Kamwi said there is an acute shortage of trained personnel. The pinch is highly felt in technical areas such as medicine, pharmacy, epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and planning as well as health economics.

Before Namibia brought in 103 nurses from Kenya in 2006 and last year, the health sector had a deficit of 525 registered nurses and 975 vacant posts for enrolled nurses.

According to Kamwi, Government owes Namibians the best possible health care and highest possible standard of medicine.

Currently, there are 120 Namibians undergoing medical training in various countries. The University of Namibia, however, provides foundation education through its pre-medical course. The course enables the students to qualify or be accepted at universities outside the country where they pursue a Bachelor of Medicine or Surgery Degree.

The exercise has proved expensive for both students and the Government. Roughly a student pays above N$40??????’??

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