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First batch of physiotherapists to graduate from UNAM

First batch of physiotherapists to graduate from UNAM

The first batch of physiotherapists will graduate from the University of Namibia (UNAM) in April, as the programme is envisioned to make an impactful difference in the health sector.

The Bachelor’s Degree in Physiotherapy was introduced in 2018 at UNAM, following a difficult period where less than three physiotherapists worked in the public health sector.

UNAM said this challenge prompted them to heed the demand for home-grown physiotherapists in order to address the national shortage.

“With the generous support of N$4.5 million to date by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA), the programme has since enrolled 54 passionate students, who have been equipped to champion the field of physiotherapy in Namibia,” they added.

The class of 2021 has focused on understanding the science behind physiotherapy as well as medicine, which is paired with clinical training that begins in their second year.

“This training requires the future physiotherapists to complete a total of 1000 hours of clinical work and during these hours, the students are supervised by UNAM lecturers,” they added

4th-year Physiotherapy student Naomie Asino said since the beginning of her clinical hours, in the Katutura State and Windhoek Central Hospital, they have consulted around 40 patients per day. “Although this was overwhelming in the beginning, it has since developed my confidence as physiotherapists,” Asino added.

Patience Lyakuwa another student that is to graduate highlighted that the most testing time of their training was assisting recovering COVID-19 patients.

“We struggled the most with patients that came from the ICU, because these patients suffered from lung damage and struggled to take deep breaths post COVID-19 and such diagnosis demanded us to be physically and emotionally available for the patients in order to get them back to their previous level of function,” added Lyakuwa.

Another student, Anna Kapolo said besides assisting recovering COVID-19 patients they also visited community care centres.

“Our clinical hours have afforded us with many opportunities to see the impact of physiotherapy and render our services to those that need it the most. Both our experience in community care homes and the hospitals have groomed and prepared us competently,” remarked Kapolo.

On behalf of all the graduates, Ez-Jay Isaacs said, all in all, they are extremely excited to graduate and continue making a difference in our public health sector and the community.

A registered Physiotherapist, Martha Kapiya, who has been working at the Katutura State Hospital for the past 20 years and who has worked as the only Physiotherapist in the hospital, with assistance from a volunteering Physiotherapist said it is a relief to have these students join the profession because working alone, catering to both outpatients and those in the wards, is not an easy task.

She added that the state hospital not only caters to the physiotherapy need of patients in the Khomas Region but at times patients from other regions are referred to Katutura Hospital for treatment due to the lack of physiotherapists in other regions.

Chief Physiotherapist at the Windhoek Central Hospital, Ndapandula Londo said that there is hope with this cohort of students. “I am super excited to officially welcome this group to the profession because looking back on the history of it in Namibia, physiotherapy is still a scarce profession in Namibia,” added Londo.

Londo said not so long ago, they were about seven physiotherapists in the entire public service and at the moment they are 21 as the ministry recently managed to employ therapists in different regional and district hospitals.

“The future looks great and I am certain of this because they have been well trained and these students have been coming for their clinical practice from the second year and they bring to this profession a rare enthusiasm and understanding which assures me that the future is in good hand,” concluded Londo.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.