Minister urges graduates to fill gap in healthcare

By Paulina Ndalikokule

HEALTH and Social Services Minister Kalumbi Shangula says equitable access to healthcare remains a challenge for a huge section in the world global population, including Namibians, that needs to be met.

Shangula said this at the Tulipohamba Training and Assessment Institute’s graduation ceremony held in honour of about 600 current and past graduates who were awarded their qualifications in Windhoek recently.

These qualifications included certificates and diplomas in Occupational Health, Healthcare Safety Management, Community Health Education and Promotion, Dental Assistance, and Counselling.

The minister in his keynote address said there is a notable gap in the health workforce that needs to be filled constantly, especially by the youth. He noted that things like early retirement, exit for better opportunities, migration, and not enough young people entering the health profession, were some of the key challenges causing staff shortages in the health industry.

Shangula said despite the challenges, Namibia has made tremendous strides in creating opportunities for young people and addressing inequalities in access to healthcare, with the enrollment of students in health-related studies growing exponentially since 1991.

“According to the National Council for Higher Education 2018, the headcount enrolment recorded a massive 724% from 4,240 in 1992 to 34,917 in 2015. The higher education system has witnessed broadened participation of students, irrespective of race, gender, class and ethnicity,” the minister said.   

Shangula emphasized that institutions such as Tulipohamba and other vocational institutions should accommodate the needs and demands of young people and, most importantly, deliver competent health professionals to the workforce in sufficient numbers.

He added that Tulipohamba will significantly contribute towards filling the limited skills training platform in the country, more importantly in the ministry.

“I note that your institution is the only one in the country offering unique courses in some areas, such as Dental Assistance. We welcome this approach, people should not to duplicate what is already being offered by other trainers in the country but to diversify and expand the academic space,” said Shangula.

He congratulated the graduates and further encouraged them to meaningfully contribute to Namibia’s healthcare services. “When you go out there, embrace the concept of patient-first and be health practitioners that are making a good difference in the country,” the minister stressed.