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Aderinola Bunmi
Science Laboratory Technology
Aspirant, Nigeria.

THE ministry of health has indefinitely suspended the training of nurses at all health training centres countrywide due to a lack of funds.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula said despite a shortage of health professionals being experienced in the country, the ministry has reached a point where it can no longer provide training as their coffers have dried up.

The minister said this during a question-and-answer session during president Hage Geingob's townhall meeting at Ongwediva on Monday.

A concerned community member had asked why the ministry of health had closed most of its training centres, while many aspiring student nurses were roaming the streets as they could not afford the high tuition fees at Unam and other tertiary institutions.

Shangula said the ministry has not enrolled any new students this year, but continues to offer training to existing students.

“The health training centres have not closed down. We are using them for the in-service training of our existing staff members. At the moment, we have received requests from various tertiary institutions such as the International University of Management, University of Namibia and others for space to train their students in our institutions, and we are ready to provide them that service,” he added.

The health training centres are registered under the ministry of health, with campuses in Windhoek, and at Oshakati, Keetmans­hoop, Otjiwarongo, Rundu and Onandjokwe hospitals.

The centres provide training in nursing and midwifery, assistant pharmacists, and environmental health assistants to students for periods ranging from two to three years for diploma courses.

Each centre takes in a maximum of 90 students per year.

The centres were set up during president Hifikepunye Pohamba's tenure with the aim of addressing the shortages of registered nurses and midwives in the country.

At the time, the ministry's target was to train more than 1 000 health professionals every year to alleviate staff shortages.

However, a number of these health training centres are said to have become white elephants, as some of them have not been operational for years.

Health executive director, Ben Nangombe told The Namibian on Wednesday that training is not the core function of the ministry.

“The training was just offered when there was a huge gap in the sector to train nurses and assistant pharmacists. But now that the resources are becoming limited, we have to minimise costs. We then decided to use the facilities for in-service training for the existing staff members,” he said.

At the moment, the training of healthcare workers is only offered at centres in Windhoek and at Keetmanshoop and Rundu.

Nangombe could, however, not say how many students are enrolled at the three centres that are open.

The ministry will also continue to look at other internal mechanisms on how to get more nurses to address the shortages that the country is battling with.

“Training is an important component. We have the capacity to train, but we cannot train for the sake of training. We must train to make sure that these students are able to get employment after they complete their studies,” said Nangombe.
Source: Namibian

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