Shortage of health professionals in Kavango

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Alvine Kapitako

Rundu-The two Kavango regions continue to experience a shortage of professionals to fill vacant positions in the health sector.

Speaking to reporters last week, the director of health for Kavango East and West, Timea Ngwira, said one of the contributing factors to the shortage of health professionals in Kavango East and Kavango West is the fact the regions are “very rural”.

“Most young people don’t want to come to the rural areas,” commented Ngwira.
Some health facilities in the two regions do not have accommodation to house the needed professionals from outside the regions, Ngwira added.

“The training facilities, it’s only this year that we have Unam here. A college training nurses for a diploma qualification only started four years ago. The first graduation will be this year.

“At least maybe when they graduate they will make use of those rural facilities. Those who are not from the region don’t come.”

Ngwira also spoke on the state of health in the regions, saying: “This year we experienced a burden of malaria. Malaria is tormenting people as of last year and it’s continued up to now – we are still experiencing an upsurge of malaria cases.”

HIV/AIDS remains a problem as well. “When you have a high burden of HIV you expect more and we have TB (tuberculosis) cases, which is also high. Among the children we are experiencing a lot of malnutrition because of the drought,” said the health director.

Despite efforts by various stakeholders to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Ngwira said the fact that there is a border with Angola makes it difficult to control.

“We can’t control how people are interacting. The border town is always affected by that. You find many young people and young people are linked with social activities and sometimes with poor behaviour and that also affects things.”

She also attributed the high HIV rate to poverty, saying the two Kavango regions are among the poorest in the country. “When people are poor they tend to engage in unfruitful activities. People use poverty as an excuse to get an income and that can lead to HIV/AIDS.”

Pointing out the measures in place to fight the disease, Ngwira said some activities are entirely the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

“But some are done in collaboration with other ministries,” she said.
They also educate people on the importance of responsible behaviour through radio and community meetings.

“We take our responsibility seriously with medical interventions like voluntary medical male circumcision and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. And we are trying to test as many people as possible who come to health facilities for services,” added Ngwira.

There are also interventions to prevent new HIV infections. “Apart from that, with the TB programme we are also having HIV/TB integration programmes. We also have a malaria control programme that is aimed at controlling malaria infections,” said Ngwira.

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