By Petronella Sibeene
Government efforts to address acute human resource shortage in the health sector continue to bear fruit, with 379 students graduating in different health specialties recently.
In 2006, there was a deficit of 525 registered nurses and an additional 975 vacant posts for enrolled nurses at State health facilities.
Human resources have remained inadequate particularly in the public sector given the perception that the private sector offers better remuneration packages, health experts have commented.
A total of 362 enrolled nurses or midwives, 10 pharmacy assistants, six radiographic assistants and one environmental health assistant on Thursday graduated from the National Health Training Centre.
The National Health Training Centre is an initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Social Services with the aim to train Namibians in a variety of health fields in order to achieve the country’s target of primary health care for all.
This was the 11th graduation ceremony for enrolled nurses and allied health workers.
According to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, Namibia faces human resource challenges in health.
The dire situation, two years ago, prompted the Government to seek expatriate assistance of over 100 nurses from Kenya while the country trains its own people.
The minister says training of locals continues, with 709 students enrolled at the Ministry’s training centre. Similarly, the University of Namibia this year has an intake of 879 students in health-related fields.
“From this number, 666 are pursuing nursing science, 164 are pursuing degrees in social work, 10 are doing diplomas in radiography and 39 are enrolled on the premed/pharmacy programme,” the minister said.
The university last year produced 113 registered nurses, with 100 already absorbed in the ministry’s health system.
The Polytechnic of Namibia is also training 28 students in B-Tech degree/diploma in Environmental Health and 29 in Medical Laboratory Technology.
In addition, foreign academic institutions such as those in Cuba, Russia, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa continue to train Namibians in health-related professions.
Dr Kamwi said 117 Namibians are doing medicine, 38 are in pharmacy, nine in clinical engineering, 30 in environmental health and 30 in medical laboratory technology.
Meanwhile, the minister said his ministry is in the process of conducting a health systems review that will result in the development of the Ministry’s strategic plan including human resources management and development.
“A key aim will be to address the challenges faced by health care personnel,” he added.
Health experts have argued that Namibia’s acute health personnel shortages have resulted in some nur-sing staff displaying negative attitudes towards patients.
While the sector and its staff have many a times received criticism from the public for, in some cases, alleged negligence the minister urged this year’s graduates to always consider their oath before serving the