08 May 2014 12:40pm
OPUWO, 07 MAY (NAMPA) A total of 158 Health Extension Workers for the Kunene Region graduated here on Wednesday.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the Governor of Kunene Region, Josua //Hoebeb said the Ministry of Health and Social Services embarked upon a programme to train Health Extension Workers in Namibia to accelerate the promotion of health awareness and build local communities capacity to get involved and participate in primary health care interventions.
The introduction of these new health cadres into our health system will increase the number of health care providers available in communities, and as a result serve as a link between health facilities and communities, said //Hoebeb.
He noted that despite improvements in the provision of primary health care services (PHCS) since independence in 1990, Namibia still lags behind in providing equitable access to health care services.
This, he added, is due to Namibia being a vast country with a sparse population distribution, which causes geographical challenges in the provision of health and social services.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services National Health and Social Services System Review (NHSSSR) in 2008 confirmed that in spite of the progress made in the implementation of the PHCS approach, the provision of health care services did not extend beyond the health facilities including clinics.
The same review recommended that such health series be extended in a structured manner into communities and homes, said //Hoebeb.
He added that within the health sector, equity and accessibility of affordable health and social welfare services are among the key principles guiding the health sectors development. This has led the Health Ministry to identify extension of the National Health Strategic Plan 2003-2009, as a being amongst the critical strategies towards ensuring access to health care services especially for those living in sparsely populated and remote areas.
A number of African countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi and Eritrea have now made significant progress in improving access to PHCS and in bridging the gap between health facilities and communities by introducing health extension work with a reasonable degree of success.
Therefore, in efforts to introduce a similar programme, we should learn and share the information on the best practices from those countries which have implemented such programmes successfully, noted //Hoebeb.
He added that this requires that Namibia adopt home or community-based health care practices or positive behaviours. These activities can be carried out by households or communities themselves after receiving guidance from trained health extension workers.
Some effective interventions can also be delivered among the general population through outreach and mobile services by health extension workers with the support of our health centres, clinics or district hospitals, he noted.
Health Extension Workers will activate individuals, families and communities to play a greater role in the improvement of their own health status and to contribute significantly in improving the quality of life.
Other regions where Health Extension Workers have been introduced are Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango and Zambezi.