Clinics Stand Idle for Four Years in Kunene

Rural communities in the Kunene Region continue to decry the lack of public health facilities in their areas, as two clinics that were supposed to have opened their doors in 2011 to serve more than 35 villages remain closed due to shoddy workmanship.

Ombombo and Otuani clinics, each situated about 75 kilometres from Opuwo, were due for completion in February 2011 but villagers in close proximity are yet to receive service from the clinics.

The contractors tasked to build the clinics have both been relieved of their duties.

Kunene’s Regional Health Director Thomas Shapumba yesterday admitted that the opening of the two clinics have been delayed for far too long, but assured the affected communities that both clinics will be in operation soon because the minor defects that stalled the inauguration of the clinics have been sorted out.

The lack of a water purification system at Ombombo, improper design of the water tanks, and shoddy paint work and installation of water pipes by the initial contractors are but some of the bottlenecks delaying the opening of the clinic.

“Otuani clinic is 100 percent complete, we are just waiting for the furniture from Windhoek and then the inauguration process which will depend on the availability of the minister,” said Shapumba.

He also blamed the delay on government bureaucratic processes when it comes to appointing contractors.

“There was need to rope in new contractors to complete the work, but that took a bit of time. The contractor for the clinic in Ombombo has been appointed and will be on site next week,” said Shapumba.

The 88 300 population of Kunene is currently served by 14 clinics. The remotest clinic [Epupa] is situated 196km from Opuwo, where the region’s only hospital is, followed by Otjokavare (160 km) and Sesfontein (150km).

Due to the situation, villagers from Ombombo are forced to travel 50km to the nearest public health centre at Orumani, while nurses at Otuani continue to work from a cabin located in one of the schools in the area.

One of the nurses at Otuani told New Era yesterday they too are waiting to make use of the newly-constructed clinic but that ministerial authorities remain tight-lipped as to when the new clinic can open its doors.

“When I started here last October, we were told that the clinic cannot open because there is no running water, but in May the water problem was resolved when some people came to put up a borehole. We are in November now but the clinic is still closed,” said the nurse.

Although the clinic is not in use, medical personnel at Otuani reside in the nurses homes constructed behind the clinic.

“The situation is very bad because the current clinic does not even have running water or a toilet. We do not have water to wash our hands and when nature calls we are forced to go to the nurses home behind the new clinic to help ourselves. We treat expectant mothers and small babies here yet we do not have running water,” said the nurse who could not be named to protect her from victimisation.

The cabin-cum-clinic serves about 2 080 people from 23 surrounding villages, a situation described by the nurse as inconvenient because some patients end up going home without receiving treatment.

Source : New Era