WINDHOEK – Health and Social Services Minister Dr Bernard Haufiku says it is unacceptable that Okongo hospital has no doctor, while hospitals at Karasburg and Opuwo only have two each.
This impacts on health service delivery, noted Haufiku. The size of a hospital plays a role on how many doctors should be deployed, Haufiku told New Era.
Ideally, Karasburg district hospital should have at least three doctors, but this is not the case as the hospital has one fulltime doctor as well as a retired doctor whose new contract lapses in May next year.
Okongo should ideally have a minimum of at least four doctors, said the health minister. He added that because of the size of the Opuwo hospital, at least eight doctors are needed for efficient health service delivery. The Ministry of Health and Social Services has not been able to deploy doctors where they are needed the most partly because the Health Professions Council Act has not yet been approved, the minister explained. As a result, the ministry cannot deploy doctors where they are needed even if it is against their will, said Haufiku.
“Many of our clinics and hospitals in rural areas are short of staff partly because the current Health Professions Act does not empower the (health) ministry to deploy healthcare personnel where they are most needed and against their will,” said Haufiku last week.
He added: “Clearly this limits our good intensions as enshrined in our national healthcare strategy and other policy documents. The inequitable distributions of human resource for health in rural verses urban settings is a serious constraint to achieving universal health coverage under Goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
He added that recently qualified doctors including specialists such as dentists, pharmacists and nurses are up until now not registered practitioners because of delays to gazette the Health Professions Council Bill into law.