Windhoek-The budget cut of 6.10 percent for the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) for 2018/19 has negatively impacted the job prospects of over 343 nurses who were awaiting employment – after health minister Bernard Haufiku confirmed that no new intakes are on the cards during the financial year.
About 169 recently graduated registered nurses from academic institutions and 174 registered nurses trained under the health ministry’s Project 2013, in response to a recommendation of the Presidential Commission, will not find government employment this financial year.
The freezing of nursing jobs was announced by Haufiku in the National Assembly yesterday when motivating the ministry’s budget of over N$6.5 billion.
“The ministry could not absorb these graduate nurses. Not that we do not need them or do not want to employ them, but simply because the ministry did not have positions for these nurses then, but subsequently created positions through compensatory reduction by converting managerial and administrative posts into professional cadres,” he said.
“But now that we have the positions we do not have funds to employ them,” he said, adding that this was not particular to nurses but cuts across all professional cadres.
Haufiku says if lawmakers agree that more funds be allocated to health, the ministry would, in the shortest possible period, employ the graduate nurses, dentists, pharmacists and many others.
“I personally believe that as long as the ministry remains faced with a critical shortage of staff, lacks appropriate and basic medical equipment and physical infrastructure, that are dilapidated or critically lacking, such as renal dialysis units, for which Namibia is paying so much both monetarily and importantly, in human lives, this ministry in particular and government in general will always be making headline news and always for the wrong reasons,” said Haufiku.
About 36 unemployed registered nurses earlier this year gathered at the Ministry of Health and Social Services headquarters where they demanded answers on when they would be employed. More medical professionals are expected to graduate from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) later this week.
The nurses had refused to hand their petition to the deputy health minister, Juliet Kavetuna, saying they will only deal with the minister Bernard Haufiku.
They booed the deputy minister who silently waited for at least 15 minutes before leaving.
“Maybe Haufiku is coming,” was Kavetuna’s response before making the thumbs down gesture before leaving. “We only want the minister to accept our petition,” said the group’s spokesperson Junias Shilunga.The nurses held up placards written “budget is out”, “Ministry of Health please hire us”, and “stop discriminating nurses”. They also demanded answers on the frozen posts, saying the posts were advertised last year and nurses have waited for the budget to be released.