HEALTH CRISIS

ORIKI: Resolve medic internship stalemate

In Summary
  • The prolonged delay has pushed interns into depression and socioeconomic turmoil
  • Long-term reforms within the Ministry of Health are essential

For the past two years, medical interns—comprising medical officers, clinical officers and nursing interns—have endured profound psychological and emotional hardships while anxiously awaiting government postings to begin their mandatory one-year internship.

It has been disheartening to see photos of interns enduring cold nights, holding vigil to advocate their rightful postings and reforms within the Ministry of Health. This prolonged delay has pushed interns into depression and socioeconomic turmoil.

Concurrently, patients face long queues due to the insufficient number of medical personnel in healthcare facilities, with medical interns constituting up to 40 per cent of the total healthcare workforce in public facilities.

The recent postponement of the court ruling on internship remuneration until September has worsened the crisis, further debilitating an already dysfunctional health system.

This delay not only wastes interns’ invaluable time but also exacerbates their socioeconomic plight, leaving healthcare facilities understaffed and patients underserved.

Currently, additional medical interns who have completed their studies are exacerbating the backlog of unposted interns, compounding the challenges at Afya House.

Immediate intervention from the President is imperative to resolve the impasse between government agencies (SRC, PSC and MoH) and unions regarding interns’ postings and remuneration.

Swift action is crucial to alleviate the deteriorating situation and restore functionality at Afya House. Addressing the ongoing clinical officers’ strike, now in its 96th day, is equally critical, as it has halted outpatient services, special clinics and theatre operations.

Furthermore, long-term reforms within the Ministry of Health are essential, focusing particularly on the six key pillars of the health system and prioritising the healthcare workforce. Swift resolution of issues affecting healthcare workers is vital to prevent future industrial action among key medical professions.

Increased budget allocations are vital to ensure the timely implementation of operations, services and strategic plans aligned with achieving Universal Health Coverage. Establishing a health commission akin to the Teachers Service Commission and Judicial Service Commission is necessary to comprehensively address workforce-related matters, including employment, reassignment, promotion, remuneration and career progression.

Lastly, appointing qualified and informed individuals to critical positions within the Ministry of Health is crucial. This ensures the government receives expert guidance on current and future health challenges in our country, recognising that a healthy nation is a prosperous one.

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