24 September 2018

Namibia: Stranded Students to Resume Classes

NAMIBIAN medical students, who were stranded in Zambia after the health professions council of Zambia (HPCZ) stopped their programmes, will be resuming classes next week.

The health ministry's deputy permanent secretary, Petronella Masabane, announced in a statement on Friday that the matter was resolved by a delegation she led to Zambia in June.

Zambian newspaper Lusaka Times reported on 11 June this year that the HPCZ had withdrawn the approval certificates for some health-related programmes which were approved and recognised by the council and being offered at the Lusaka Apex Medical University (Lamu) in Lusaka and Cavendish University.

The banning of the programmes has affected thousands of Zambian students, and 91 Namibians studying at the two universities.

"The ministry is pleased to inform the public that the HPCZ reinstated the licences for the bachelor of pharmacy and radiography at Lamu, and bachelor of medicine and surgery at Cavendish University. Students were expected to report for classes today, Masabane announced.

She said her ministry, in collaboration with the Health Professions Councils of Namibia (HPCNA) and the University of Namibia sent a delegation to Lusaka, Zambia, in June to investigate the matter.

"The visit was concluded with an agreement that the universities' management will put measures in place to meet the requirements of the HPCZ in order to re-register the affected programmes in time for the second semester which commenced by the end of July 2018, the deputy permanent secretary added.

Documents sent to The Namibian by the Cavendish University confirmed Masabane's announcement, saying all the programmes which were withdrawn were reinstated earlier last week.

"New and continuing students for the bachelor of clinical sciences and master of public health should register as soon as possible, and commence classes today, 24 September 2018," said Cavendish vice chancellor Kalombo Mwansa.

According to the Zambian Times report in June, the programmes at these universities were withdrawn because lecturers did not qualify to teach.

The programmes at Apex University were withdrawn on the grounds that the dean does not have a post-graduate qualification and the school, having 740 students against five full-time lecturers, four of whom do not quality to teach.

For Cavendish University, the certificates were withdrawn on the grounds that some teaching staff do not have HPCZ practising certificates, while the university has no policy on occupational health and safety, and does not have laboratories at the campus, among other reasons.

Confirming the withdrawal, the HPCZ said the Cavendish University has met the requirements, and is therefore granted approval to continue with their programmes.

Masabane stressed that the health ministry, in consultation with key stakeholders, will take reasonable measures to ensure that the training of the students is not unnecessarily disrupted for an extended period, and that students are not subjected to education and training that will put patients/clients and their careers at risk.

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