Kamwi Defends Nyarango’s Qualifications

THE Minister of Health, Richard Kamwi, last week dismissed comments made by his permanent secretary about the Dean of the Unam School of Medicine, Peter Nyarango’s qualifications, saying he is a medical specialist and a public health expert with a good knowledge of Namibia’s health profile.

Although Kamwi did not refer directly to his permanent secretary Andrew Ndishishi’s doubts over Nyarango’s qualifications, the minister’s comments are in stark contrast to the PS’ comments from February in which he questioned where the dean got his PhD.

“Nyarango was appointed by Hangula. Where did he get his PhD? Is he even registered to treat anybody? Can he put his hands on a patient? How can someone who is not registered to treat a person, train people to treat patients?” Ndishishi asked when fifth-year students claimed that they would need an additional 20 months of clinical training to make up for lost time.

But Kamwi last week told the National Assembly that Nyarango graduated as a medical doctor in 1977 from the University of Nairobi, and obtained a master of medicine degree in surgery seven years later, which allowed him to become a surgeon.

He was responding to Nudo president Arnold Tjihuiko’s query about Nyarango’s academic qualifications, nationality, work experience and recruitment process.

In addition, Kamwi said Unam management head-hunted the dean in April 2009, and that he had to leave his “very highly paying job with GTZ”.

“He was not keen to come because he was at the time having a very highly paid job with GTZ. It took Unam more than a year to convince Professor Nyarango to take up the position of founding dean of the school of medicine. He had to sacrifice his highly-paying job to come to Namibia,” the minister said.

Kamwi said Nyarango was appointment because he is a medical specialist, public health expert with a good knowledge of Namibia’s health profile, and was involved in the feasibility study of the school of medicine as a member of the steering committee.

In addition, Kamwi said Nyarango is a medical lecturer, a professor who was involved in setting up medical schools in Kenya and Eritrea.

He explained that Unam head-hunted Nyarango after the dean, Professor Jacob Mufunda, they had appointed in 2008 resigned to take up a post with the World Health Organisation, seven months after accepting the job.

The Eritrea-based Zimbabwean Mufunda, Kamwi said, was recommended to Unam by Nyarango who was then a member of the steering committee of the school of medicine.

“So the university once again had to look for another person to take over the responsibility,” Kamwi said, adding that the then dean of the school, Professor Olli Vainio, aised Unam to approach Nyarango.

Kamwi further said the Unam School of Medicine is not led by Nyarango but by Associate Dean Philip Odonkor, a Ghanaian doctor.

Nyarango, the minister said, is the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences that oversees the three schools of medicine, pharmacy and nursing and public health.

Kamwi said Odonkor, who holds a PhD from a Canadian university since 1992, has served as a WHO consultant in Uganda and Sierra Leone. His last position before taking up the Unam job was as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in Lesotho.

“We can see that both professors Nyarango and Odonkor are highly qualified and experienced people and thus one cannot doubt their suitability to lead our medical schools,” the minister said.

Source : The Namibian