opinionBy Lazarus Hangula
It is very strange and indeed very unfortunate that Minister Richard N Kamwi, a doctor of philosophy graduate of the University of Namibia (UNAM), chose to go on a crusade against his own Alma Mater. It is appropriate for the University of Namibia to state the following for the sake of the Namibian public.
Since its establishment the University of Namibia has always been collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) in the training of nurses and other health professionals through consecutive Ministerial leaderships. Very often MOHSS approached UNAM with requests relating to increasing the intake of students wishing to study nursing science and other health related professions, to accommodate special MOHSS needs, etc. to which UNAM always tried its level best to accommodate. The two government institutions also co-operated in the establishment of the pre-medical programme for the training of Namibian doctors.
However, the situation changed when Dr. Kamwi took over the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and adopted a public confrontational stance towards UNAM. Following the establishment of the Medical School the Minister decided to go on a full blown attack apparently as a revenge for not having been given an opportunity to make a statement at the School's inauguration ceremony in April 2011. From that time onward, Minister Kamwi became inimical to UNAM and would use every opportunity to publicly infl ict as much damage on the institution as he can. He has tried to do this systematically by employing a three-pronged strategy, namely:
(a) by discrediting the School of Medicine through different means;
(b) by attacking the "quality of UNAM trained nurses" through the media; and
(c) by spearheading or actively supporting the establishment and running of "Welwitschia University" by a coalition of some people who were in charge of the training of nurses at UNAM together with a few members of staff of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
It is patently clear that the Minister is in serious confl ict of interest. Our analysis has also revealed that the ever intensifying attacks on UNAM by Minister Kamwi are chronologically parallel to the developmental planning of "Welwitschia University" in which Minister Kamwi is quoted to have been variously involved. Indeed, it is highly questionable that the Minister was able to negotiate the establishment of a new private university with UNAM staff who were entrusted with the responsibility of training nurses at UNAM, but it was never possible for him to discuss how to better accommodate the clinical training contact hours for the UNAM trainee nurses in state hospitals with the very same UNAM staff! It appears in such logic that those individuals were not good enough when they were serving in a public institution such as UNAM, but they would become good after draining the public institutions to benefit private institutions!
It is the same Ministry which has told UNAM on several occasions that the current situation at the public hospitals does not allow UNAM to admit more trainee nurses and doctors because of challenges related to clinical training due to limited capacity of the public hospitals, yet the Minister is offering the same hospitals which have inadequate facilities to the private university to make use of them!
It is important for the public to note that while UNAM has the best trained health professionals serving as lecturers to provide students with knowledge, skills, etc. the training of nurses is complemented with clinical training and supervision provided at our public hospitals using mostly staff from these hospitals. Unfortunately, this latter component of training has sometime been quite problematic and very wanting.
For how long will Minister Kamwi be allowed to destroy what Health Professionals have built with a lot of dedication and constructive engagement before him? Could it be that Minister Kamwi is using UNAM to cover up his own failures in the crippling health system that has caused many Namibians to lose their lives? I leave it to the public to judge!!!
Prof Lazarus Hangula is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia