MPs Troubled By Aging Facilities at Hospital

A TOUR at the Katutura State Hospital on Friday has compelled some Members of Parliament (MPs) to do more in improving the aging facilities and addressing the chronic staff shortage facing the hospital.

Members of the Standing Committee on Gender Equality and Family Affairs at the National Assembly, including Congress of Democrats (COD) president Ben Ulenga as well as Chairperson Alexia Manombe-Ncube, took a tour of the health facility as part of their assessment and witnessed the dilapidated state of the hospital first-hand.

Led by the hospital’s acting senior medical superintendent, Nelago Amagulu, the lawmakers visited all the eight floors, the maternity and TB wards, talking to staff and some patients about service delivery.

Speaking to The Namibian after the tour, Manombe-Ncube said it an eye-opener on the reality of the staff shortage and the crumbling facilities at public hospitals.

“I found the tour to be very useful in understanding what the public is always complaining about. We have witnessed and observed for ourselves the situation on the ground,” she said, adding that the aging facilities were an eye-sore and the lack of personnel at the hospital needed urgent attention.

She said there was a need to invest in staff training to retain them.

Recruitment issues at public health facilities have especially worried health minister Richard Kamwi, who had earlier stressed the need to offer incentives to retain medical staff.

Manombe-Ncube also said hygiene at the hospital was not up to standard.

Ulenga said after talking to some senior hospital staff, the issue of staff shortage kept on coming up.

“We are losing our staff to greener pastures in the private sector and we will continue to lose them if we do not remunerate them well enough,” he said.

He also said his observations led him to conclude that there is still a lot to be done in terms of improving the infrastructure, and to relieve the high pressure and stress on health staff who are working with limited resources.

“We are also informed that doctors do not have control over TB patients who choose to go out in public, despite the risk they pose since there is no law against this and (stopping them) will constitute a violation of their freedom of movement. These are matters that need to be addressed,” he said.

Ulenga further said the hospital was a far cry from the once neat and successfully-run facility he had helped establish in the 1970s when it was first constructed.

“Our hope is that medical graduates from our local educational institutions will come and serve in the public health sector.”

Ulenga, however, commended the many young nurses and doctors he saw at the hospital.

“It is good to see young, black women serving in the public health sector,” he said.

The committee said they would present their findings to the line minister and other lawmakers in due course.

Source : The Namibian