Therapeutic a nation

Dr Tjamenda Murangi (C) with nursing staff attending to a patient with an injury on her arm
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Dr Tjamena Murangi is among the many first medical graduates to have been educated in Namibia

Dr Tjamena Murangi is seeing to a affected person with a big contaminated wound on her arm – it’s swollen and has misplaced color. “Sorry Sisi, sorry,” he says in his softly-spoken voice as he gently cleans her wound.

His affected person sits nonetheless however her face contorts with ache in a hospital ward in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek.

The wards are busy on this Monday morning and scores are ready to be handled within the emergency division.

The 25-year-old is slight however has a quiet confidence about him and folks right here in Katutura hospital appear to belief him.

He was certainly one of 37 within the top notch of domestically educated medical doctors to graduate earlier this yr.

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Dr Murangi says there’s a excessive workload, which suggests that there’s generally little time to relaxation

Till 2010, when the nation’s first medical faculty opened, would-be medical doctors needed to journey to overseas – to South Africa, Russia, Cuba, Algeria and China – to be educated.

So Dr Murangi is within the vanguard of one thing which may see a metamorphosis within the well being service right here.

Namibia is an enormous nation however has a inhabitants of simply 2.5 million, which is scattered in principally rural and arid areas. Because of this medical doctors are concentrated in city areas and generally folks must journey an extended strategy to get handled.

This morning some have travelled greater than 50km (31 miles) to get to Katutura hospital. They wait quietly, however the medical doctors are feeling the stress.

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In public hospital the place the scarcity of medical doctors is most felt, sufferers can look forward to in queues for hours

“Typically the workload can get fairly overwhelming, you discover that you’ve got many sufferers to see and also you get fatigued. You do not have time to relaxation. This could actually negatively have an effect on affected person care,” Dr Murangi tells the BBC.

However issues are bettering and lots of right here consider that the nation’s new medical faculty presents an enduring resolution to the issue of an absence of medical doctors.

Variety of medical doctors per 1,000 folks

  • Namibia : zero.four
  • Zambia: zero.2
  • South Africa: zero.eight
  • China: 1.5
  • India: zero.7
  • UK: 2.eight

Supply: WHO Global Health Observatory

The World Well being Group (WHO) has stated that the scarcity of medical employees within the public well being sector right here has hindered Namibia’s growth.

One of many causes behind the scarcity is that it was solely since independence from South Africa’s apartheid authorities in 1990 that well being companies had been made out there to nearly all of folks in Namibia, specialists say.

A excessive HIV fee, scarcity of medicine in rural hospitals, restricted coaching amenities, outdated infrastructure and an absence of apparatus to deal with sufferers have compounded the issue.

However Deputy Well being Minister Juliet Kavetuna, who describes the sector as “fragile”, says she believes the nation is now heading in the right direction.

“We at the moment are coaching extra medical doctors than ever,” she says.

“Our analysis has proven that in our hospitals we want a number of disciplines together with pharmacists, physiotherapists and dentists to work alongside medical doctors.

“We consider we at the moment are taking steps in the proper path.”

‘Delight of Namibia’

For years Namibia’s authorities needed to spend some huge cash funding college students to coach overseas.

Among the graduates then moved into personal healthcare, which may pay extra and supply higher working situations, however are past the attain of a lot of the inhabitants.

However with the brand new graduates that is anticipated to vary.

“These graduates are the pleasure of Namibia.

“A lot of our medical doctors that we get from overseas need to keep in Windhoek however our home-grown medical doctors, as a result of they know our healthcare system, need to go and work exterior in rural areas – that shall be good for our folks,” says the deputy well being minister.

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The brand new medical faculty on the College of Namibia boasts plenty of hi-tech laboratories

Dr Murangi, the eldest of 4 youngsters, graduated with the assistance of presidency funding, and stated he wouldn’t have develop into a physician in any other case.

For a lot of households, a medical diploma is just unaffordable and Dr Murangi says he was lucky to obtain a full scholarship.

“My household had been very proud after I graduated, they’ve even inspired me to check additional if doable. It means loads to all of us.”

And what of these following in his footsteps?

A brief distance from the bustling hospital, Namibia’s future medical doctors are huddled collectively in a properly kitted-out laboratory studying about neurological problems and easy methods to diagnose them.

The College of Namibia’s medical sciences centre began with 50 college students however now 400, principally Namibians, are enrolled right here, and constructing work continues alongside the educating.

The varsity advanced is grand with excessive, sleekly completed pink and gray partitions. The trendy structure stands out among the many considerably run-down homes within the space.

Inside I sit on the cafeteria with some first yr college students, aged between 18 and 19, who had been on a break between between courses.

“It is higher to check in a spot with which you might be acquainted. I do need to journey overseas to be taught extra however that is the place my abilities are most wanted,” says Nzinga Mwanachilenga.

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First yr medical college students Nzinga Mwanachilenga (L), Ndapandula Hamunime (C) and Jennifer Muyenga-Muyenga (R) hope to assist construct Namibia’s public well being sector

One other, Ndapandula Hamunime, tells me she studied in Hungary for a yr and is now again house.

“I feel the programme right here is extra suited to the social setting of Namibia and I feel in the long run that can assist sufferers.

“From very early within the programme, we work very intently with communities and we construct relationships with them,” she says.

They inform me they’ve chosen to check medication right here as a substitute of South Africa as a result of it’s extra inexpensive.

At Cape City’s prestigious college, tuition is about 64,500 rand ($four,640; ¬£three,800) in comparison with UNAM’s 11,440 Namibian ($820; ¬£670) per yr.

“A medical diploma could be very costly. Beforehand, we must apply for presidency funding to go and research in South Africa however we’ve this feature now and it is extra inexpensive,” says Jennifer Muyenga-Muyenga.

“It additionally means I might be with my household.”

These “home-grown” medical doctors, as they’ve been nicknamed, hope they’ll supply extra to sufferers however add they’ll want the continued help of internationally educated medical doctors.

Namibia’s well being issues are removed from over however many are hopeful that high quality well being will not be seen as a luxurious, past the attain of many.