Pvt health professionals cost N$2.3m this FY
The Ministry of Health and Social Services’ initiative to mobilise health professionals from the private sector to make up for the skills’ deficit in the public sector will save the ministry approximately N$2,3 million during the current financial year, MOHSS Deputy Permanent Secretary Norbert Forster has revealed.
Forster said the money would have been used to cover for the expenses of foreign doctors whom the ministry was going to bring in to work for the State.
He further said the private doctors who will work on a voluntary basis in order to assist public doctors will reduce the number of patients waiting for operations at State hospitals nationwide.
“We are faced with the dilemma of an increasing need for competent doctors to provide adequate medical services, especially in remote areas, to reduce waiting lists for operations and provide special services to the public.
Thus, the ministry has decided to approach the private sector to fish for the relevant skills as State hospitals still fall short of doctors”, he explained.
Foster said the initiative to tap into the private sector for medical skills has been ongoing for the past 10 years, and has seen a tremendous reduction in State patients waiting for operations, adding that the medical brigade continues to be a huge success.
Some patients are forced to endure delays of more than a year because of insufficient doctors.
Foster added that the constant renovations of hospital theatres also added to the delays in operations.
The operating theatres at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital were out of service for several months last year, following prolonged construction work.
Meanwhile, The Villager previously reported that government spent about N$3.2 million during the 2013/2014 financial year to remunerate Cuban expatriate doctors in a bid to fill the staff shortages faced by public health institutions.
Government spent further millions in remunerating other foreign nationals, including Zimbabweans, Kenyans, Zambians and Congolese, while taking longer to utilise local skills.
Previously, there was a government-to-government agreement on the allocation of health professionals from the North American country Cuba, which allowed Namibia to source doctors from there and only pay them an allowance of not more than U$200 (N$2000), but it expired in the early 2000s.
It was further reported that currently, the government advertises for doctor positions, and the Cubans who are willing to stay on go through the normal recruiting processes.
Namibia currently houses 120 Cuban medical personnel, which costs the country a monthly salary of N$31 800 per month per specialist; N$25 440 is spent on each medical engineer with a degree; N$23 320 on specialised nurses; and N$21 200 on health personnel and technicians with diplomas.
In addition, the Cuban medical staff are provided with fully-furnished housing, receive N$83 000 to cover international travel expenses and also receive an additional N$12 621 for excess baggage and cargo when travelling back home on holiday.
by Hileni Heita