Glove shortage a toothache for Katutura dental patients are left untreated

WINDHOEK � A number of patients requiring dental treatment at the Katutura State Hospital were turned away this week due to a shortage of gloves at the equipment-strapped public health facility.

Able-bodied dental patients claim they were turned away because the available gloves were reserved for 'priority patients' namely, pensioners, children, mentally or physically challenged and ward patients, until such a time that glove stocks are replenished.

The hospital's management confirmed the glove predicament and has since indicated that the situation has returned to normalcy.

When New Era visited the hospital yesterday, a large number of patients in need of dental treatment were found complaining and blasting the health ministry for the predicament.

Two patients who preferred to remain anonymous said they visited the hospital last week and were turned away. When they returned to hospital yesterday, they were turned away again.

I was told to leave because there are no gloves in the hospital and I am really in pain. Why are Namibian citizens not given the right to health care? Just because of gloves I am told that I won't be treated as if I didn't pay for my treatment, the unhappy patient complained.

Another patient, Natasha Tjipura, accused health care providers at public health centers of mistreating patients because nobody will be held accountable for it unlike at private hospitals where there are repercussions.

Tjipura said she was told to go to Khomasdal or Okuryangava Clinic for treatment, however she was sent back to Katutura State Hospital because the dentist at the clinic was not available.

As New Era was interviewing some of the patients, some nurses attended to some of the patients.

Patient Tuyeni Kandume was relieved for being assisted after two days of trying. She believes she was only treated because she threatened to take unspecified action.

The hospital's Customer Care Officer Josia Ihuhua confirmed that there has been a shortage of gloves in the hospital for the past two days, which forced them to prioritise certain patients based on their health status.

Ihuhua denied claims that patients were sent back last week due to the lack of gloves, saying the shortage only occurred this week. He said enough gloves have now been acquired.

We didn't chase patients away, we simply told them to get help at nearby clinics until we have enough gloves to assist every patient, he told New Era.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia