Public health system in desperate straights

01 December 2017 Author   Kaula Nhongo
State doctors have warned of a dire emergency due to what they termed “an unprecedented” shortage of basics in the operation theatres, wards, and pharmaceuticals.
In a letter dated 28 November, a group of five doctors led by Manojkumar Kamble, wrote to the Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku, outlining their concerns.
According to the doctors, for the past two months, they have been experiencing shortages in sterile gowns and drapes, gloves, nasogastric tubes, suction catheters, thorocostomy drains, wound dressing plasters and primapores, particularly at the country’s three biggest hospitals – Katutura Intermediate Hospital, Windhoek Central and Oshakati State Hospital.
The doctors said they fear losing their professional credibility because of the spiralling morbidity and mortality.
The shortages are said to have resulted in repeated procedures for sepsis either intra abdominal or anterior abdominal wall, and cross infections, which have further resulted in long theatre lists that cannot be completed.
“We are risking our professional credibility in providing care for our patients. At the same time we feel the credibility of our ministry that we uphold and defend, despite media and litigation threats, is at stake,” the doctors warned.
The doctors blamed the shortages on the new public procurement system, which regulates the procurement of goods, works and services.
This means that procurement from any Government entity has to go through a committee where they have to justify their needs so as to curb overspending.
The process, however, has caused delays in the acquiring of goods as the speed of the process is not in sync with the levels of patient needs in hospitals.
The doctors have in the meantime requested for a meeting with Haufiku to discuss the way forward.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Kamble acknowledged the authenticity of the letter, but refused to comment further, saying that this is an internal matter.
“We had concerns which we raised with the minister. There was nothing malicious,” Kamble said.
The Windhoek Observer also approached several state employees who confirmed the shortages, but they refused to comment further.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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