The University of Namibia (Unam)’s School of Medicine will soon introduce a specialised course in anesthesia.
The Associate Dean of the Unam School of Medicine, Prof Fillemon Amaambo, told New Era the postgraduate course might be introduced as soon as next year. Currently, the institution, which was established in 2010, offers only a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree courses.
“We are to some extent limited by the resources available to us. This could well be space constraints, financial resources and human resources. These are some of the things which determine how fast or how slow we are going to be introducing this training programme, but the process is moving on,” Amaambo said.
He said Unam School of Medicine is in the process of acquiring formal accreditation from various institutions that would enable the institution to be recognised with accolades and ratings.
Unam School of Medicine this year graduated 35 medical doctors for the first time in the history of Namibia.
The doctors are on a two-year internship programme at Katutura Intermediate Hospital and Windhoek Central Hospital, as well as at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.
The first batch of homegrown doctors was accompanied by medical students from countries, such as Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa attaining their medical qualifications in Namibia.
Amaambo noted that foreign students are applying to study at the institution, but only a limited number of foreign students would be admitted.
“We’re not in a position to accept many of them. We would like the locals to be given a fair proportion of places in the school… at least for now,” Amaambo explained.
Although the Unam pioneer doctors are Namibia’s pride, primarily because they were trained at home, Amaambo admitted these doctors may not immediately alleviate the shortage of doctors in the country.
He explained that addressing the shortage of doctors and other health personnel in the country is a medium- to long-term target.
“There are more than 35 hospitals in this country. Even if they were to be distributed to all the hospitals at best each hospital will only get one for now,” Amaambo added and stressed that what is important is that training is ongoing.
“If we were to give ourselves enough time, ten years from now it is very likely that people will start seeing the difference. So, we are not hoping that in each and every health facility in Namibia in the next two years they (Unam-trained doctors) will be there,” he said.
The new doctors would need to work in effective combinations, he noted.
“While the one is operating the other one is putting the patient to sleep, while the other is examining the specimen in the laboratory. So, they need to be mixed in appropriate combinations and these are things that will take time,” he said.
Alleviating the shortage of health personnel in the country should not necessarily be enforced by law, he added.
“When they are being trained they are also being exposed to the socio-economic conditions of the country so that they are ready,” Amaambo said.
He is in adamant though that many of the Unam-trained doctors are psychologically and mentally ready to serve their communities and would not necessarily stay in Windhoek.
“Many of them actually already understand the arguments why it is not appropriate for them to just remain in Windhoek. And it was part and parcel of the training process and that is the advantage of training them at home, because they don’t have unrealistic expectations,” Amaambo said.
“We are concerned about making sure that we guide the process of training and service,” he added.