Over 3000 medics trained

By Paulina Ndalikokule

GOVERNMENT through the Ministry of Health and Social Services has spent over N$545 million to train 3031 students at foreign institutions since 2013 to 2019.

Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula revealed this in Parliament in response to questions posed by Popular Democratic Movement MP Nico Smit recently, who had asked the minister how much money the ministry had spent to train medical students at institutions outside the country.

Shangula said the amount spent was a good investment that yielded health graduates to provide health services to Namibians and ensure that people are healthy. “In case of medicine, only healthy people can be productive and bring about meaningful socio-economic development,” the minister said.

He said Namibia is still not self-sufficient as far as the training of health professionals is concerned, thus government cannot rely on training health professionals locally only.

“We will, therefore continue to utilise opportunities available in other countries for training Namibian students. This includes opportunities opened up through bilateral cooperation arrangements. Needless to say, other countries are also relying on other countries for the same,” Shangula said.    

The ministry enrolled 638 students at training institutions in Zambia, Russia, Cuba, India, Tanzania and South Africa. Out of the total enrolled, 347 were medical students, 112 pharmacists, 92 dentists, 21 radiographers, 10 biomedical technologists and 18 physiotherapy and environmental health students.

“Other training products with less than 10 intakes per category are clinical sciences, medical orthotics and prosthetics, orthopedic technology, diabetics and clinical technology,” he said.

Shangula said the University of Nambia’s School of Medicine has thus far produced 294 medical doctors and most of them are now deployed at health facilities across the country after successful completion of a two-year internship programme. “The School also introduced pharmacy and dentistry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy programmes,” the minister said.

He said in 2013, a project code named Project 2013 was established to train 750 students in health and social welfare-related fields during the period 2013 to 2017 at foreign academic institutions and 1 080 registered nurses at local training centres managed by the ministry.

Since the inception of the project, 568 registered nurses were trained by UNAM, the International University of Management and Welwitschia University, which collectively produced about 550 registered nurses per year.

The Health Professions Councils of Namibia (HPCNA) has registered about 1 175 students to train in careers in the health sector inside and outside the country for the period 2008 to 2021.

In 2018, HPCNA registered 456 health-related interns of which 310 are medical doctors, 51 pharmacies, 37 clinical psychologists, 330 dentists and 28 other medical staff with support from the Namibia Students’ Financial Assistance Fund that provided funding and resources for the training.

He said since Independence, government had trained people locally in various professions, such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, radiography, medical technology, physiotherapy and environmental health.