Members of Parliament and staff pose for a group photo with staff of the Otavi health centre
|Story by George Sanzila
Otavi - Among a raft of concerns that continue to affect health service providion in the Otavi constituency include poor infrastructures, lack of accommodation for staff and transport challenges. According to Dr. Jasen Mutombo, a supervisor for the Otavi Health centre, patients that are referred for further medical care end up dying on the road or while waiting for transport as the constituency has no ambulance driver and relies on transport from Otjiwarongo which is over 130 kilometres away.
“Our infrastructure lacks space. Even the integrated health service introduced by the Ministry is not being implemented because of lack of space. We also have lack of accommodation for staff. Transport is a major challenge as we only have one ambulance which has been returned to Otjiwarongo because we don’t have a driver. Otjiwarongo is over 130 kilometres and patients have to wait and when they get help if they have serious conditions they end up dying on the road”, complained Mutombo.
This predicament which was related to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs that is visiting the Otjozondjupa region to ascertain the condition of health facilities in the region, often results in deplorable health services.
Otjiwarongo is still the administration centre of the Otavi health district, where its patients are referred. Plans to have the district administered from Tsumeb district which is just over 60 kilometres have stalled.
The area is further grappling with many cases of gender based violence. What seems to exacerbate matters, it seems is the continued habit of withdrawal of Police cases by the victims. A woman activist noted that it could be poverty that is widespread in the area forcing many women to reconcile with their partners even in the face of repeated physical abuse as they are their only source of livelihood. A police representative at the meeting appealed for a review of the law to prevent the constant withdrawal of cases by victims.
The Otavi health centre caters for over 12 000 patients with services related to sexual reproductive health rights such as maternal, provision of contraceptives, PMTCT, HIV testing and counseling and male circumcision among many others. It has a compliment of 8 staff and one doctor. Over 1500 patients are under HIV treatment at the facility.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum launched a project on sexual reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS in Namibia recently which has compelled Members of Parliament to be advocates for sexual reproductive health rights and HIV and AIDS.