• August 18th, 2019
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Namibian medical students stranded in Zambia

WINDHOEK - Namibian students pursuing medical-related studies at two Zambian universities are yet to resume classes despite the Namibia health ministry indicating in July that they were reinstated. 

Yesterday, the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Petronella Masabane, confirmed that Namibian students are stranded in Zambia.

“I’m aware. I’m waiting for an update from our officials because I was out of the office last week and I need an update on what’s happening and then we will issue a statement,” said Masabane. 
In June, the Ministry of Health and Social Services issued a statement that 91 Namibian students pursuing medical courses at Lusaka Apex Medical University in Lusaka and Cavendish University were banned from continuing to offer health related programmes.  

A Namibian delegation, led by Masabane and which consisted of, amongst others, officials from the Health Professions Council of Namibia, travelled to Zambia to assess the situation and not long after that, health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku said in July that the students had resumed classes after the Health Professionals Council of Zambia (HPCZ) rescinded its ban on the courses. 

“Remedial action has been taken and all of these students have returned to classes,” Haufiku said in July, an announcement he made at the launch of the health ministry’s five-year strategic plan.
Yesterday, New Era spoke to affected Namibian students in Zambia who said students at Lusaka Apex Medical University will resume their classes next week Monday (24 September). 

“For the Cavendish students it’s even worse because they don’t know when they are starting and the university has not provided them with answers,” said one student. 
Furthermore, the students complained they do not receive their stipends on time. The stipend for August is yet to be paid, they said.

“We have a situation here in Zambia. Firstly, the ministry of health gave out a false statement that the students are back at school attending classes and everything is back to normal. But we are here stranded at our boarding houses, no allowance, and no school for over three months, now we’re just seated at home,” moaned one of the students. 
“We are starving because we didn’t receive our allowance for the months of August to November until now. We are starving and we are depressed because we don’t even go to school,” students stated in unison in one of their grievance messages sent to New Era recently.

Yesterday the students said in the beginning the allowance they received was US$350 which equaled N$5,218.5 at yesterday’s exchange rate. However, this amount has been decreasing.
“Our allowance is always delayed and it’s getting less each time but the Zambia currency is strong so it’s quite little,” the students added. 

The Lusaka Times newspaper reported in June that the HPCZ withdrew the approval of certificates for some health-related programs offered at Lusaka Apex Medical University and at Cavendish University. The withdrawal was because of “serious violations” which were discovered at the last monitoring compliance which was conducted on October 17, 2017 after which HPCZ wrote to the affected institutions to address the violations. 

However, the last inspection conducted on May 21, 2018 still revealed serious violations than those discovered earlier. 
A retention officer who identified herself as Nyema at Cavendish University’s Medical School said: “I’m not in the position to give you any feedback. I’m referring you back to the V.C (vice-chancellor) and registrar because I do not participate in those meetings. I do not have any information on that,” she said.

New Era tried in vain to get comment from Apex Medical University as their phones rung unanswered.

Alvine Kapitako
2018-09-18 09:10:09 11 months ago

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