No Use Frying Small Fish

LET NAMIBIANS not be fooled that the punishment meted out to three nurses – Bertha Mutikisha, Isebel Akawa and Leopoldine Mbendeka – over the negligent death of a patient and her unborn baby in 2012 – is an indication that our health system somehow has checks and balances.

If anything, this verdict by the Health Professions Council of Namibia that comes two years after the death of Juliana Kleopas suggests that hardly any progress has been made to rebuild the collapsing provision of health care for the poor and most vulnerable in our country.

The three nurses were found guilty of unprofessional conduct and gross negligence. They were prohibited from working in the health profession for two years, one of which was lifted as a probationary term.

On the face of it, this action should renew some faith in the system by showing that professionals who don’t do their work will not get away with murder.

Far from serving as a source of comfort, the singling out of the three nurses who were on duty the day (3 May 2012) Kleopas was found dead in a pool of her own blood, having fallen off the bed onto the ward floor can only prolong the malaise.

Kleopas was booked for a Caesarian section on 30 April. When she got to the hospital she was informed that the operation could not be done because it coincided with 1 May as a public holiday.

We now know that the three nurses on duty the day she died, 3 May, did not monitor her closely enough. But unanswered points relate to the chain of events and people that led to the denial of care for Kleopas in her pregnancy.

In a civilised society (her negligence and wanton death suggest we are far from being civilised) the leaders and managers would have fallen on their swords, modern-style of course, in accepting responsibility and resigning in shame. After all, lives were lost.

We are yet to learn what measures were put in place after the death of Kleopas. We have not been told what measures will be taken against others in the process who should have taken care of her.

What seems obvious is that life goes on as usual for the political heads of the Ministry of Health (Richard Kamwi and Petrina Haingura), the administrators (including the permanent secretary) and other health staff, such as doctors and other nurses.

How can anyone not jump to such a conclusion when similar cases of death and negligence continue to be reported while the system itself has not changed?

Fix the entire chain fix the system. That requires taking steps against all who should be considered as having a part in the death of Kleopas and many other State patients. The political and administrative heads must especially be made to account because they are responsible for the poor working conditions and facilities that have made it easy for three nurses to neglect not only Kleopas but countless other patients as well.

Who’s Managing Who?

We have become a nation that celebrates plans and programmes but when nothing comes of them no one is responsible for failure to deliver.

Forgive us, therefore, for not getting carried away with the latest performance management system that permanent secretaries signed en masse with Prime Minister Hage Geingob being the witness-in-chief.

Many performance agreements have been set and signed by government officials before. We are informed the difference with this week’s contracts is that actual deliverables were inserted with a little more monitoring and review than previously.

But we are also told that the new system contains no rewards or punitive measures in case an employee fails or works better than expected.

What a cop out?

Source : The Namibian