Health fast-tracks thousands of posts

25 September 2019 | Health

The health ministry is gearing up to employ more than 4 000 extra people to address the chronic staff shortages at hospitals and clinics across Namibia.

In a statement issued last week, the ministry said it was aware of the lack of human resources, including at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital where a lack of specialist doctors had been highlighted recently.

In order to address these shortages, the ministry was recently given the green light to create more than 4 000 new positions.

Work has already begun to identify where staff are most needed.

At the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital there are currently 16 positions for specialists. The ministry said an additional 26 positions would be created, bringing the total to 42 specialists at the hospital.

The ministry has also put in place a number of alternative mechanisms to support health facilities struggling with lack of human resources.

These include agreements between the ministry and several private hospitals; the national medical outreach initiative, which mobilises both public health professionals and private doctors for medical missions to different public facilities; and support from international medical volunteers.

Under these agreements, private doctors support public health institutions, including the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, and various district hospitals. The deployment of private doctors has helped strengthen the available professional skills in surgical procedures, anaesthesiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as neonatal care.

“This has worked very well, and the health of many patients has been restored and many lives saved,” the ministry stressed.

The ministry highlighted further that the medical outreach programme has been one of the ministry's most successful initiatives for several years.

“The country has benefitted immensely from the support by selfless and generous volunteer doctors and health professionals who support many of our facilities through the mobilisation of equipment, funds, training (capacity building) and conducting of medical procedures. Many of these volunteers come to Namibia for up to 40 days at a time and work at our facilities around the country,” it said.

The ministry highlighted that a medical team from Australia, who form part of a charity called Health Volunteers International, has visited the country since June 2017 and has supported the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital immensely.

The team, led by Dr Andrew Ottaway, is currently in the country to help train medical and nursing professionals.

Moreover, they have provided basic equipment to reopen an operating theatre at Eenhana Hospital, which has been non-operational for several years.

Since last year, the team has been visiting Namibia twice a year. The team intends to increase its visits to three next year and to expand their work to the Engela and Eenhana district hospitals.

Another non-governmental organisation, NEO for Namibia, led by Professor Thomas Berger from Switzerland, has supported the ministry for several years.

Their interventions and support have led to notable improvements in neonatal and maternal care at state hospitals.

Another organisation supporting the ministry is Mudiro, spearheaded by Barbara Muller. They are active mainly in the Kavango East, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Oshikoto regions.

There are several other organisations that support the ministry.