Health Minister demands treatment for Angolan patients

OSHIKANGO: Health Minister Dr Richard Kamwi has called on health directors in the regions sharing borders with neighbouring Angola to ensure that Angolan nationals have access to Namibian health facilities.

Kamwi made this call whilst officiating at a belated commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day held at the northern border town of Helao Nafidi in the Ohangwena Region on Monday.

He singled out Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene north, Kavango East and West as the regions bordering Angola which should attend to Angolan patients who seek medical treatment in Namibia.

“We are going to attend to all Angolans seeking medical attention in Namibia,” Kamwi said, adding that allowing Angolan nationals living along common borders access to local health facilities will put Namibia in a good position with regards to disease surveillance and control.

Kamwi said an increase in the number of patients from Angola being treated for TB in the Ohangwena Region’s Engela Health District has been noticed over the past two years.

He said a third of the patients managed in the Engela District in 2012 and 2013 were from Angola.

“This brings the total number of TB patients from Angola managed in the Engela District in just two years to 521,” the health minister explained.

Kamwi, however, expressed concern about the challenge of ensuring that Angolan patients are successfully treated.

He noted that 63 of 81 patients who defaulted on their TB treatment in the Ohangwena Region in 2011 and 2012, were from Angola.

“This has significant implications for the region as well as the country, as it negatively impacts on the achievement of national and international targets,” the minister stressed.

He then encouraged strong partnerships between government, communities and the private sector, saying this is essential if the national and international targets in the health sector are to be reached.

The minister also urged patients moving between the two countries (Namibia and Angola) to provide correct details, so that the health authorities are able to trace and support them while on treatment, especially those on TB treatment.

“These partnerships include cross-border collaboration to ensure that patients who move between countries continue to access treatment,” said Kamwi.