Naysayers block healthcare provision

The health minister has lashed out at those blocking the passage of the Health Professions Bill, saying they are “self-centred”.

09 October 2018 | Health

Health minister Bernard Haufiku has lashed out at “lobbyists” who have successfully pushed for the blocking of the Health Professions Bill.

According to Haufiku the proposed legislative amendments, which would allow for the composition of health professions councils that already lapsed in March, was a mere last resort.

“Mostly for their rather self-centred and personal interests, the anti-bill forces kept on attempting to block any forward movement in the process of formulating the bill. I have received several letters from these groups and their lawyers,” he said.

Haufiku said some relevant issues were raised, such as concerns around the minister as appointing authority of the council members and the cost of running one large council instead of separate councils for the different medical professions.

According to him these and other issues relating to the bill were considered, as well as the cost of running a more compact health professions council, ensuring that both its elective and administrative processes would be more cost effective than the current setup.

As a result of the delay, many qualified doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses are now unable to register as health professionals.

“It is unacceptable that up to now Karasburg District Hospital only has one medical officer, Opuwo Hospital only two and Okongo Hospital has none.

“Many of our clinics and hospitals in rural areas are short of staff, partly because the current Health Professions Act does not empower the ministry to deploy healthcare professionals against their will to where they are needed the most,” he said.

Haufiku emphasised that the inequitable distribution of health professionals between rural and urban areas is a serious constraint to achieving the universal healthcare goal under the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

He said this when he inaugurated the new health professions councils, including the Medical and Dental, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Allied Health Professions Councils, last week.

“Nothing can be more satisfying than serving fellow human beings. I know you will continue to face even more challenges, as the anti-HPCNA forces will not stop here. They will continue to want to distract and distort your work and good intentions. Remain focused,” he said.



JEMIMA BEUKES

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