Private owned nurse-training school, I-Care Training Institute is battling to stay afloat as efforts to get accreditation from the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) to train auxiliary nurses continue to be frustrated by the health ministry.
The situation of the institute, founded and owned by Johannes George has led to resentment from some students who feel cheated that they are being exposed to unrecognized courses at the expense of their money.
Despite the health ministry having long phased out auxiliary nursing, George is however adamant that there is still a need and a gap that needs to be filled by the course.
“If you check very well, you will realise that it was discontinued but the problem actually escalated. It didn’t help the nation, from my personal view because I am a trained nurse and I am supposed to think of how I can make nursing better if I must be a person of benefit to society."
“If you look at the public complaints, they are not complaining that the medication is not being given on time, they are complaining about basic nursing care that deals with the human basic need which is always not met in the hospitals. It’s because we do not have enough staff,” he said.
According to George, for NQA to give him the green light to offer the course, his application documents need to be accompanied by stakeholders’ support letters, of which the health ministry is one of them.
Former Health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola refused to issue him last year in September citing that the course was no longer relevant and wished him luck.
Instead, I-Care Health Training Institute was recommended to the private sector and “others who may still be interested or have the need for skilled nursing assistants in their daily operations”.
“So this came to me, I looked at it, I even forwarded to the Nursing Council, I said but are we really thinking of the problem we have at hand? Why would a person refuse permission for others to be trained? You realise that we have people serving in positions but when they are sick they do not go to the state hospitals; they go to private hospitals. When they go to private hospitals, because they have medical aid, they get very good and nice care by some of the people who are at the level of a nurse assistant.”
“It becomes a bit of a problem because if the Act says nobody is allowed to practice unless registered with the council then what are these people, the health care support personale and all other people doing? They are not registered!”
Speaking to The Villager however, deputy minister, Juliet Kavetuna said the term “Auxiliary-nurse” comes from the colonial times but the nation may be better off reintroducing them within the system.
“I think his argument may hold water but the problem that we are currently facing is that everybody is looking at the government as an employer. At the end of the day we work within the framework of a staff component, we do not employ anybody who go study,” she said.
George said that one part of his training was to train students till they get to a level where they are registered with the council and get fully accredited and practice with confidence.
The Nursing Council advised him to do a research program to try to support his motion that auxiliary nursing ought to be retained.
“When I did that, 80% of all the people I spoke to are in support of the introduction of that cadre. From the beginning, the course was health care support, so it could not be registered with the council I fund it that it can be registered only if we can bring it to the auxiliary nursing level.”
“So I told my students that we are moving up, we are going towards the auxiliary level. I didn’t think it was a problem because it is something that is worthwhile. It’s something that is taking the youth out of the streets, has a lower entry level in terms of points. A lot of people are out there; they can not go to any institution because they can not afford certain points of the entry requirements”
George started the courses from July last year yet he continues to be thrown from pillar to post by the health ministry, the council and the NQA.
The council set with the ministry to brood over the auxiliary issue and see if it could be reintroduced and no progress was made.
The council proposed that he train enrolled nurses instead.
George said he feels frustrated and unsupported given how much he had invested in his institution.
Meanwhile efforts to get in touch with the NQA were fruitless as the responsible authority was not available until the time of publication.