WINDHOEK – Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi and Permanent Secretary, Andrew Ndishishi, yesterday met with the first group of 236 students who will pursue studies in medicine, dentistry, medical engineering and pharmacy in Russia and Cuba over the next few years.
The first 33 students will leave for the Russia Federation this coming Thursday. Kamwi told the students that their academic quests represent a major breakthrough for the government, considering the acute shortage of skilled personnel in the medical field. He highlighted that there are very few medical personnel in the country and hence the need to train increasing numbers. According to Kamwi 70 percent of all medical doctors and general practitioners in the country are expatriates, while only 30 are Namibians. “We are only 23 years old as an independent country, as such we do not have institutions to train specialists and general practitioners,” he said.
Two more years are left before the University of Namibia’s School of Medicine produces its first batch of graduates, Kamwi told the students. Kamwi said his predecessors did well in training medical personnel, but because of the luring pull-factors in the private sector many left government. Hence, the ministry came up with the initiative to bond the 236 medical personnel to government for a specified period. Kamwi told the students that the government would take care of their tuition fees, books, pocket money, airfare but in turn they are to sign an agreement that would see them working for government to improve the country’s public health sector. “You will be assigned where the service of the nation expects you to be,” the minister said.
He further told them that they would not be ‘static’ practitioners, because after practicing for a number of years they would be send for further studies to specialise. He urged them to maintain discipline and to work hard during their time of study. “You are not going there to make babies,” he cautioned the students and reminded them not to engage in irresponsible sexual behaviour. On his part Ndishishi said: “Your performance will determine the future of other prospective students,” and urged them to work hard as well.