Andrew Kathindi

Most of the foreign-trained medical graduates who took exams for internships earlier this year failed. This re-assessment was taken two years after only two out of 240 foreign-trained Namibian graduates passed the earlier Medical and Dental Councils Board Exams.

“433 foreign-trained medical graduates sat for the internship exam in 2020; 27 passed,” Director of Human Resources in the Health Ministry, Joyce Shatilwe, confirmed to Windhoek Observer.

She further noted that “those who failed registered with the MoHSS for an orientation program that the Ministry has initiated. So far 277 have registered and we are anticipating kicking off in August 2020.”

Shatilwe added that 76 foreign-trained medical interns are on the waiting list for the orientation.

The MoHSS also confirmed that it has absorbed and deployed 55 foreign-trained medical graduates. This is to address rising COVID-19 cases in Namibia. This is despite only 24 having managed to pass the qualifying exam.

The last evaluation took place on 9 January 2020 and the next evaluation is expected to take place between September and October 2020.

In 2018, the foreign-trained medical graduates complained about the unnecessary complexity of the medical and dental council examination. There were exams for medical internships, not for licensing as practitioners. This exam was introduced in 2016.

Local medical doctors called in to review the exam asserted that the UNAM professors organizing the assessment, cut-and-paste questions from the internet. They further stated that the inserted questions were above the level expected for medical interns.

The recruitment of foreign-trained medical graduates comes after Minister of Health, Kalumbi Shangula confirmed that this ministry absorbed 2,000 unemployed graduate nurses.

Efforts to get further details on the foreign-trained medical graduates from the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA) were fruitless. The Office of the Registrar refused to answer questions sent. It was stated that, “There is currently an unfair characterization associated with medical graduates from countries you have specified. Providing you information regarding the evaluation of persons from such countries will add impetus to bad characterization. We unfortunately cannot help you.”

Shangula, last year, stated that foreign-trained medical graduates can opt to enroll in a two year remedial program. This is until they perform to the satisfaction of Council to be admitted as medical interns.

According to media reports, Namibia currently has about 17,500 registered health professionals. This includes nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other specialists practicing in the country.

Of this total, 63 percent or 11,200 are employed in the private sector, while only 37 percent are in the public sector.