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Health minister bemoans skills shortage

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng on Friday bemoaned the shortage of critical skills in Lesotho’s health sector.

Ramatlapeng was speaking at the graduation ceremony for 217 health practitioners from the National Health Training College (NHTC).

The ceremony was held at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

The 217 graduated with diplomas and certificates in general nursing, midwifery, nursing assistantship, pharmacy technology, anaesthetic, environmental health and psychiatric nursing.

Ramatlapeng said the graduates should help alleviate the shortage of human resources in the health sector.

“You now have a key that allows you entry into the world of work within the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s different departments and elsewhere,” she said.

“Your participation should improve our healthcare delivery system, combined with alleviating the dire shortage of human resources for the health sector in Lesotho.”

Lesotho does not have a medical school to train its own doctors and relies on foreign nationals for the service.

But most doctors recruited from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been leaving the country in droves over poor pay.

A doctor in Lesotho earns about M8 000 a month which is way below the average salaries paid to these professionals in the southern Africa region.

Nurses are also said to be disgruntled.

They also complain of poor pay, long working hours and bad working conditions.

Ramatlapeng however appealed to the nurses not to abandon their patients even when they have genuine grievances.

“You are like soldiers. Unlike in other professions you are not supposed to leave work because you have grievances,” she said.

“You owe it to your patients. You are the only hope that patients have to recover from their illnesses.”

The minister said health practitioners must also be loyal and professional in discharging their duties.

“The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has a profound expectation that the following values will be upheld at all times: professionalism, honesty, loyalty, justice and customer care to all your patients and clients irrespective of their social standing,” she said.

Ramatlapeng said she expected the graduates to bring “recognisable improvement in the lives of Basotho”.

The NHTC is a government-run college that trains students in various medical-related fields countrywide.

It enrols about 500 students every year.

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