Local doctors question new NIP board

By Confidente Reporter

THE new board of the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) is under fire from local doctors who want to know why it does not include a pathologist.

Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula appointed a new NIP board last week, which consists of an accountant, lawyer, educator, person with business qualifications and two medical doctors.

The doctors, who do not want their names to be mentioned, said NIP as a pathology service provider should thus at least have a pathologist on its board to advise it on diagnosis and follow-up analyses. A pathologist examines laboratory tissue samples and interprets medical laboratory tests to ensure patients receive proper treatment.

With a population of 2.2 million people, there are only five pathologists in the country, of which only one is Namibian and the rest are expatriates. The four expatriates all work for NIP, while the Namibian has their own private practice in the north.

Confidente understands that NIP pathologists are often overworked because all the patients in the country rely on them. Sometimes they send samples to Lancet Laboratories in Johannesburg, which according to its website provides diagnostics and monitoring pathology services in South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“You cannot run something you don’t understand. At least there was supposed to be someone with a pathological qualification because none of the two medical doctors on the board is a pathologist. There was supposed to be a subject expert in the board. When you have a pathologist, you know what the laboratory needs or what the company needs.

“You need to grow the laboratory, hence you need someone on the board who understands all these things. Like during the last December holiday, there were around 500 samples in NIP laboratories waiting for the expatriates to come from their holiday for them to be attended to.

“They (samples) were only attended to during the second to the third week of January this year,” one of the doctors said, adding that such things are probably happening because there is no one on the board who is a qualified pathologist to advise the board.

Contacted for comment, Shangula referred to the advertisement placed in local newspapers by the outgoing board, adding that the composition of the new board was not his wish. “Look at the requirements in the advertisement in the newspaper and see what kind of board the (outgoing) board wanted. It’s not the wish of the minister or the wish of the unknown doctors,” he said.