Dental graduates' careers in limbo

13 Sep 2017 13:40pm
By Linea Dishena
WINDHOEK, 13 SEP (NAMPA) – The careers of nine young Namibian dental graduates are in limbo after the Ministry of Health and Social Services failed to place them for internship.
The graduates completed their training in July 2016 at various universities in Ukraine and Russia, but were told there is no money to pay them when they do their internship at any of the five medical institutions approved for practice.
These are the Katutura and Oshakati State hospitals, Rundu Intermediate Hospital, Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital, and Dr JH de Haast Private Dental Practice.
This means that the graduates who did five years of training and a six-month remedial course in Namibia are not employable without internship, and thus cannot be registered by the Health Professions Council of Namibia.
The Medical and Dental Act, Act 10 of 2004 requires dental graduates to complete a one-year internship with a health facility approved by the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia before registration.
These graduates, who are known to Nampa but preferred to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said they were told by Permanent Secretary for Health and Social Services, Andreas Mwoombola at their second meeting with him on 05 September 2017 that the ministry still does not have money to pay their salaries as interns.
The graduates feel they are being side-lined by Government after they were made to do a pre-internship evaluation in November 2016 before doing the six-month remedial course which ended in June this year.
In a letter addressed to the ministry and copied to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila dated 18 August 2017, the nine graduates asked the ministry to place them in the approved institutions regardless of the non-availability of funds to pay their salaries as interns.
They stressed that lack of clinical practice for a long time may lead to them losing the knowledge gained.
“We have waited for a long time and it got us feeling insignificant with our qualifications,” said one of the graduates.
Questions sent to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) by this agency regarding the issue were not answered.
However, Nampa learnt that the OPM wrote a letter directly to the health ministry, requesting for a meeting with the graduates.
It was at this meeting that Mwoombola told the students that it would be illegal for the ministry to place graduates on internship without pay.
In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Director of the Labour Resource and Research Institute, Michael Akuupa said the law is not clear whether graduates can be allowed to do internship without remuneration.
“The law only says graduates should do a one-year internship in order to register as dental practitioners with the Medical and Dental Council of Namibia,” said Akuupa.