Govt back to drawing board on health workers uniforms: Kamwi

WINDHOEK: The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi says Government will go back to the drawing board to find ways of providing uniforms to all health workers in the country.

Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament on Wednesday, Kamwi said this process will delay the acquiring of uniforms by the Ministry of Health and Social Services by several months.

The minister said since Independence in 1990, the normal practice has been the inviting of tenders for the supply of uniforms for health workers, bed linen, curtains, screens and other related materials.

He said these tenders were mainly confined to Namibian companies. However, members of the public and some Members of Parliament have expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality of the fabric and the workmanship of the uniforms.

Kamwi said on the part of the ministry and the Tender Board of Namibia, there have been serious concerns about local suppliers not only in terms of meeting the deadlines for timely supply of uniforms and bed linen, but also the quality of the uniforms, the design, standard and textiles, as well as timely delivery of ordered materials according to the tender specifications.

He noted that during the 2009 to 2011 tender, out of 63 items only 40 items could be awarded because most companies could not meet the required specifications.

The minister said two companies were considered. One specialised in imports and exports as these uniforms were not made in Namibia; and the other company did not have sufficient capital to import adequate fabric for uniforms and as a result, this company could not supply the ministry with uniforms for two years.

“The problems of procuring suitable uniforms and hospital materials were difficult not only for the ministry, but also for the Tender Board of Namibia,” he stated.

Kamwi said as a result, the Tender Board of Namibia had to seek technical and professional expertise.

The minister said his ministry decided to take another approach to set the standard and quality of fabrics to be used for various categories for health workers because fabric standards are categorised depending on the content of the materials used to produce the fabric such as poly-cotton, cotton and polyester.

“I would like to state here that it was never the intention of the ministry to import readymade uniforms from any part of the world,” Kamwi said.

He indicated that it is the intention of the ministry first and foremost to provide suitable uniforms, curtains, bed linen, screens and all uniforms and related materials which are of a standard which is in line with the norms and standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that would equally create a corporate identity for the ministry.

He noted that his ministry intends to ensure quality and standards through capacity-building and skills transfer, not only for the staff of the ministry, but also for all successful tenderers who shall produce the uniforms locally.

He said the ministry also intends to not only provide training and skills transfer, but to ensure guidelines in terms of the design through the provision of catalogues and availing of the required fabrics because the production of the uniforms should be made according to health guidelines and standards in order to prevent transmission of infections and contamination of diseases.