31 March 2011

Namibia: 'Backdoor' Medical Practices a Concern

Windhoek — The mushrooming of backdoor clinical practices mostly by foreign doctors is a growing concern that needs regulation as patientsí health is compromised.

Some Namibian medical doctors in the public service, attending a consultative meeting with officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Services, on Monday expressed these sentiments.

Eye-specialist, Dr Helena Ndume, with other doctors concurring with her, expressed concern about private doctors that set up consultative practices, especially in Katutura, resulting in people suffering because of their backdoor treatments.

She suggested at the meeting that any doctor that wants to practise in Namibia should go through the Ministry of Health and Social Services for screening on whether they qualify to do the job.

In response, Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, said current legislation stipulates that a foreign doctor that wants to practise in Namibia should be registered in the country of origin as a specialist in the areas that they intend to specialize in here.

Another concern raised was that there should be a standard in the country that would assess doctors that want to work in Namibia.

ìIn South Africa, you can't just take anyone like that, said one doctor. Another doctor, added: We just take any doctor who comes and it's patients who suffer.

Doctors further touched on the issue of referrals from district hospitals to Windhoek, where some doctors lamented that some cases are inappropriateí to be referred to Windhoek and should be dealt with at district level.

In response, Kamwi said some Namibians are dying because there are no doctors in those areas to treat the patients or handle those inappropriate cases.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Nobert Forster, said doctors should show empathy with those at district level. He encouraged them to pass on skills where necessary by advising those who make inappropriate referrals, on how to handle the cases.

Kamwi said the country faces a shortage of medical officers and at all the 34 hospitals in the country only Okongo, Outapi, Okahao and Tsandi have principal medical officers who are Namibians.

He said: We have reached a stage where the 34 hospitals in this country should at least have a principal medical officer who is at least Namibian, the minister noted.

He stressed that there is need for hospital managers to manage district hospitals and explained that they should be able to address some of the deficiencies that occur at hospitals.

Unless I have managers who are up to their jobs, I will be rated as the least minister. We are no longer a young nation. We are independent. We are in a position to be handling challenges and finding solutions, he noted.

Doctors also expressed dissatisfaction because they are not involved in purchasing equipment that they need to carry out their jobs. Subsequently, the equipment are not used, as they are at times not the correct ones.

Forster suggested that doctors submit motivations to the relevant authorities with regard to the equipment they would like to purchase for submission. Further consultations were encouraged.

Some Namibian medical practitioners in the public service, at a consultative meeting with the leadership at the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Copyright © 2011 New Era. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.