WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Health and Social Services says it is addressing the shortage of health professionals at state health facilities, especially those in the regions, by filling critical posts.
In a recent interview with New Era, health permanent secretary Ben Nangombe said a number of vacancies would be filled to improve healthcare service delivery.
The vacancies include those of registered and enrolled nurses, medical doctors and specialists as well as posts such as mortuary assistants, he said.
“We have done a thorough analysis and we know exactly where the vacancies are, how many they are and what type of vacancies they are. We have situations where our district hospitals only have a post of one mortuary assistant. Some district hospitals cater for a catchment area of as many as 40 000 people,” said the permanent secretary.
He added: “If the catchment area of a facility is 40 000 people and you only have one mortuary assistant it tells you that the structure that is in place is non-responsive. So we have identified these shortcomings and we will address the problems and put in place the human resources that will respond to community needs.” He also responded to questions by New Era on the patient-nurse ratio at health facilities countrywide.
“We are concerned about the nurse-patient ratio and the doctor-patient ratio at health facilities where we are understaffed,” remarked Nangombe. He cited as an example the Kamanjab clinic in the Kunene Region, which was upgraded to a health centre and yet the staff complement remains the same.
“As much as we built a new facility we did not take the next step of staffing the health centre with the adequate number of health workers such as nurses,” added Nangombe.
Nangombe further made reference to the Gobabis hospital which is understaffed and subsequently experiencing long queues of patients waiting to be seen by nurses.
Due to the shortage of staff the same nurses that attend to the in-patients (patients admitted in the wards) are the same nurses that have to attend to the outpatients, explained Nangombe.
“When the nurses come in the morning they first attend to the admitted patients and given the number of patients in the ward that process would take long from the morning hours to about noon. It is only in afternoon, from 13h00 that the outpatients are attended to,” explained the permanent secretary. This situation puts pressure on the nurses and this may subsequently compromise on the quality of healthcare service that patients receive, Nangombe explained.
“And also these patients become agitated for waiting (for so long). It’s evident that if there were more nurses at health facilities, service delivery would be better. But if you have more patients than the nurses can handle it becomes problematic,” commented Nangombe.
Further stressing on the shortage of health personnel at facilities, Nangombe said: “It is a concern and we have approached the Public Service Commission and Treasury (Ministry of Finance) to allow us to recruit what we have termed critical posts so that we can fill them to improve the quality of service delivery.”
2019-01-08 10:06:26 12 days ago