Members of Parliament touring the Rundu hospital
|Story by George Sanzila
Rundu - Kavango east and west regions are grappling with a shortage of nurses and doctors, inadequate infrastructure and congestion due to a growing number of patients. Health centres that are supposed to provide relief for the heavily strained Rundu intermediate hospital are not only few but lack the necessary infrastructure and resources to be fully functional.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family affairs unearthed these challenges when it visited the Kavango east region recently. The visit, part of the committee’s oversight function and in partnership with the SADC-PF and other stakeholders such as NANASO and UNFPA was specifically targeted at health facilities looking at sexual reproductive health rights and HIV and AIDS.
The Director of Health in the Kavango east region, Timea Ngwira noted during a meeting with members of Parliament that the status quo has affected the provision of health services in both regions.
The Rundu hospital, one of Namibia’s four intermediate referral hospitals found in Kavango east region, is under immense pressure following its transformation, attracting patients from other regions such as Zambezi, Kavango west and even beyond Namibia’s border in neighboring Angola.
At a community meeting with residents of Sauyemwa informal settlement about 6 kilometres west of Rundu, one clinic caters for over 12 communities in surrounding areas. Community members complained of long distances they have to travel to access health services with HIV patients defaulting on their medication due to poverty and hunger.
Despite the challenges, the Health Directorate has stepped up efforts aimed at improving sexual reproductive health in the region. According to Idah Mendai, Chief Programme Officer for Special Programmes, in order to mitigate the distance travelled by patients to access services, HIV and AIDS services have been decentralized.