Rundu – Health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku has conceded that for long the ministry has prioritised recruiting nurses that it has trained, at the expense of those trained by private institutions.
Haufiku, speaking to New Era at Rundu over the weekend, said this practice must come to an end as it smacks of discrimination against other Namibians.
The minister said one of the recommendations from a commission of inquiry instituted by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba was for the ministry to train more nurses in order to fill existing gaps.
However, many nurses have trained at institutions such as the University of Namibia, International University of Management and Welwitchia.
As a result of the practice of overlooking them, many trained nurses are now sitting at home without jobs.
“We trained them and they all graduated then our people [in the ministry] started discriminating against nurses who graduated at other institutions. They only employed those that we trained and that is wrong as they should have mixed them because all of them are Namibian,” Haufiku said.
The minister also said that those training with the help of the ministry are not necessarily and automatically better than others.
“You may train a lousy one and an excellent nurse is trained by IUM, very committed, then we leave that person out. The ministry should have approached the employment of nurses in a more heterogeneous way by not discriminating against nurses trained by other institutions.”
“That mistake needs to be corrected but unfortunately those in the system cannot be taken out now, so we look at the vacancies that are becoming available and consider graduates from Unam, IUM and Welwitchia,” he noted.
The health minister added that the ministry wants more nurses and other health professionals but their hands are tied as the current employment structure is too small and outdated despite the high demand for these professionals.
“I want competent, committed, accountable professional staff – nurses, dentists, pharmacists and doctors and everyone else. That is the first priority because that is what has been lacking in the ministry largely. Secondly as a ministry we don’t have enough nurses, doctors and so on, we don’t have enough and we need more.”
Haufiku stressed that the current structure is not responsive to the needs of the public. “As we are talking, for instance, Rundu probably needs 33 or more medical officers. It has less because of the vacancy that could not be created in terms of the current operational structure. And I have heard parents phoning into Oshiwambo radio asking why their children cannot be employed. The ministry of health does not employ per se. It does not approve vacancies, they are all approved at the Office of the Prime Minister,” he said.
“Secondly, I have said that we have proposed a new structure for the ministry about a year ago that we submitted to the OPM. Even though it may now seem like I am castigating the OPM, the reality is that the proposed new structure is with the personnel management department of the OPM – they are aware, however they tell us that which is the general directive given, that we cannot employ new people, it’s what the public service commission is saying,” he added.