Foreign nurses under threat- Namibia

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The group which calls itself the Namibian unemployed registered nurses says the foreign nurses working in Namibian hospitals should understand, and terminate their contracts.

In a press statement more than 300 unemployed nursing graduates have given the foreign nurses employed by the government until 30 July 2018 to resign.

It is difficult for a qualified nurse to spend more than seven months without practising as this will lead to forgetting, and clinical negligence at work,” the group said in the statement signed by group spokesperson Junius Shilunga.

He said this was a collective decision, and that the move to ask foreign nurses to quit should not be looked at as them being anti-pan-Africanist.

By last August, 314 foreign nurses were working in Namibia out of 714 foreign professionals, according to the health ministry.

The aggrieved nursing graduates were not absorbed into the health sector after the government froze posts in April this year because of the cuts in the national budget.

To accommodate Namibian nurses, the government also said it would not renew foreign nurses’ contracts that were due to expire by 1 September 2017.

Health minister Bernard Haufiku has, however, backed down on the decision not to renew foreign nurses’ contracts.

He told the media on 17 May that the decision announced by his former permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola last year dishonoured an agreement Namibia had signed with Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Shilunga, however, said by renewing foreign nurses’ contracts, the government had maintained its position of leaving hundreds of young Namibian nurses on the street.

He added that despite telling the nation that they had frozen nursing posts, the health ministry was recruiting secretly, and they have proof that the Windhoek Central Hospital and the Katutura Intermediate Hospital hired nurses last month.

The unemployed nurses also want to know the criteria used to recruit nurses last month to fill positions which were not even advertised to the public.

It is also critical to note that should our concerns not be taken seriously as outlined in this release, we will approach young Namibian lawyers for legal help to probe further into these matters,” he threatened.

The Namibian reported last month that 32 foreign nurses could not get their certificates of good standing to enable them to leave since they had secured jobs in other countries.

The group’s spokesperson further told The Namibian that they will not reveal their plan of action at this stage, but will wait for the foreign nurses to quit their jobs.

Mr Shilunga called on President Hage Geingob to intervene in the matter, which has crippling effects on the future of the healthcare sector in the country.

A foreign nurse from Zambia, who worked at a hospital in the north, told The Namibian that she was still waiting for the good standing certificate from the Health Professions Council of Namibia so she can leave.

She added that her contract ended this week but says she cannot apply anywhere else without the letter.

People (foreign nurses) want to leave but the papers aren’t ready,” she said.

Hauwa Mustapha