10 Jul 2018 20:10pm
WINDHOEK, 10 JUL (NAMPA) Health minister Bernard Haufiku through the Profession Amendment Bill, 2018 intends to slash the 66 members by 34 on four of the five existing health councils resorting under the ministry.
He made this announcement in the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday, adding that the move is inspired by the ministrys efforts to curb expenditure, but without compromising on quality.
The reason for smaller councils is to cut costs of members. However, this will not have an adverse effect on the efficacy of the councils in carrying out their functions and duties, Haufiku told the House.
The Amendment Bill further provides for the deletion of the election process of members of the councils. This will be substituted with the provision for nominations of council members by their professional peers and appointment by the health minister.
There are currently five Health Professions Acts of 2004 in existence, each establishing a council under it.
Under the 2004 Acts, councils were established by conducting of elections as prescribed by Section 7 of the Acts, Haufiku explained.
The councils include the Allied Health Professions Act, 2004, which established the 15-member Allied Health Professions Council.
In addition, there is the Medical and Dental Act, 2004, which created the 15-member Medical and Dental Council and the Nursing Act, 2004, that gave birth to the 10-member Nursing Council.
The Pharmacy Act of 2004 established the 11-member Pharmacy Council.
Meanwhile, the Social Work and Psychology Act, 2004, established the Social Work and Psychology Council. It has 15 members.
If the health professions bills are amended, the new Medical and Dental, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Social Work and Psychology councils will all be composed of eight members.
However, the Allied Health Professions Council, which has more than 60 professions under it, will not be affected.
The Amendment Bill will make provision for the health minister to appoint suitable members in the absence of nominations from the institutions.
This, according to Haufiku, is to curb any possible vacancies and vacuums as is the case at present.
To fill the vacancies, elections would have to be conducted by the prescribed procedures. This option was not feasible and the minister exercised his powers in terms of Section 7 of the Acts to extend by notice in the gazette, Haufiku explained.
He was challenged in the NA by Popular Democratic Movements Jennifer van den Heever, who wanted the proposed changes to be debated in Parliament on Wednesday prior to their enactment.
She was not ready to present her arguments, saying she was still consulting with the affected health professionals for their inputs on the matter.
To this, Haufiku said the more delays there are to the amendments, the longer it will take for critical health professionals such as nurses and doctors to be hired as they have to undergo scrutiny by the respective councils.
The councils whose terms of office commenced are currently not active. The last extensions of terms of councils members lapsed on 31 March 2018, with no further extension made since then.