Community health workers still jobless

02 October 2018 | Health

With the health ministry struggling to place 640 trained community health workers, the governor of the Ohangwena Region, Usko Nghaamwa, has announced that his region will place 95 of them.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services started training 640 community health workers in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango East, Kavango West, //Karas, Omaheke, Oshana and Otjozondjupa regions in September 2016.

They completed their training in July last year, but until now they have not been deployed.

In a statement read on his behalf during the 18th Ohangwena Regional Eye Surgical Campaign last week, Nghaamwa commended the health ministry for introducing the community health programme in order to improve access to health information and care at community level.

“I am informed that currently we have 187 trained community health workers deployed in villages across the region, while a total of 95 trained community health workers are waiting to be deployed when funds become available,” Nghaamwa said.

“This programme helps to prevent the overcrowding of patients and clients at hospitals and clinics because they are treated and given health promotion services by the community health workers. This is a very good programme the government has set up.” After graduating last year, the 640 community health workers were equipped with first-aid kits and were promised that they would be placed as soon as possible.

In August this year, health ministry permanent secretary Ben Nangombe said the ministry could not employ the community health workers due to budgetary constraints.

He said the ministry had already employed 1 600 community health workers on a full-time basis countrywide.

Nghaamwa said the health system reforms in his region focused on transitioning to a system based on a central role for primary health care (PHC).

He said after independence, the government started implementing useful programmes to bring healthcare services closer to the people.

Today the region has three district hospitals at Okongo, Engela and Eenhana, two healthcare centres and 31 clinics. “After independence the government started building clinics so that more people can be treated closer to their homes instead of going to hospitals. To supplement clinic services, many outreach points for different services have been also established to further increase health service accessibility,” Nghaamwa said.

“To date, our nurses are providing outreach services at 144 outreach points throughout the region.”

He said the government continued to build more facilities in remote communities. The construction of the Omauni clinic in the Okongo constituency will be completed soon and the clinic is expected to open in this financial year, while the Onanghulo clinic in the Ohangwena constituency expected to open in the next financial year.

“In addition to that, we have also expanded some of the existing health facilities, such as the expansion of the outpatient department and construction of an isolation ward at the Engela hospital, supported by the construction of new clinic buildings at Ondobe and Okatope in the Ohangwena constituency,” he said.

ILENI NANDJATO