MASERU — Lesotho will start training its own doctors next year. Stakeholders met on Wednesday
to discuss the setting up of a committee to work with the Ministry of Health on the establishment of the medical school.
The chairman of the technical working group, Dr ‘Musi Mokete, said plans to set up a medical school were first mooted in 1978 during the Basotho National Party government but this fell through. Mokete said they hoped the plan will materialise this time around because there is political will from the current government.“Lesotho has a ratio of one doctor to 20 000 patients and if we have a medical school to train our own doctors the situation would be much better,” Mokete said. He said the ideal figure would be one doctor to every 1 000 patients “and with our medical school that will be possible”. Currently Lesotho has only 120 doctors countrywide, 50 percent of whom are Basotho while the rest are foreigners. Mokete said the school was supposed to have started this year but was delayed because of challenges. “We will have to decide whether to set up the school at the National Health Training College, the National University of Lesotho, or a site near the new referral hospital which belongs to the Ministry of Health,” Mokete said.
He said the medical school will help the country deal with a critical shortage of medical personnel that has been haunting Lesotho for years. He added that Lesotho had this year sent a group of 40 medical students to Zimbabwe for training under a government-to-government agreement.Two other groups will be sent to Zimbabwe in the next two years under the same programme.
After three years the students are expected to come back and do their practicals at Queen ‘Mamohato Hospital and other health centres in Lesotho. The principal secretary in the Ministry of Health, ‘Malerato Khoeli, said a medical school will enable Lesotho to produce doctors in large numbers and at its own pace.“At the moment the government is spending a considerable amount of money to train medical doctors and nurses outside the country,” she said.
Khoeli said it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that the setting up of the medical school succeeds.