OPUWO – The bad roads as a result of the difficult terrain, as well as the long distances travelled to access healthcare services, contribute to some villagers’ refusal to access these vital services when sick.
The headman of Omuţati village in Epupa Constituency, Maepingiko Tjindunda, recently told New Era that the bad terrain in the Kunene Region makes it difficult for people to access healthcare services on time, particularly during the rainy season.
“During the rainy season people die like animals when they are sick in Etanga and nearby areas,” Tjindunda said. The concerns have been raised with the leaders and at various platforms, including through the Otjiherero radio service but seemingly to no avail, Tjindunda lamented. “We don’t know what our leaders do. We have been voting for years. We have not received help concerning our roads for the past 25 years, yet we have been fighting for these concerns. Nothing happens,” said Tjindunda.
He said when patients are referred to see a doctor at the state hospital in Opuwo from the clinics they have to wait for days to be attended to.
“We even forget that we are sick while waiting for the doctor,” he added.
The current operating hours of clinics and health centres are not in favour of patients, said Tjindunda. The clinics open at eight in the morning and close at five, and on weekends they are closed, he said. As a result, people falling ill over the weekend have to travel long distances to the state hospital in Opuwo, he explained.
“And to make it worse the roads are so bad that they damage our vehicles. Some people don’t have cars, they have to borrow money to pay for transport.”
“We don’t even bother telling nurses at the clinics that there are critically ill patients at the village because in the past we were told that the clinic only operates during weekdays,” said Tjindunda.
“My question to whoever came up with the rule that clinics should not operate on weekends is who said that people don’t get sick or die on weekends. We lag behind in terms of development,” he noted.
The shortage of doctors is a concern to the headman who asked if doctors in Opuwo are paid less compared to other parts of the country. “Why are they refusing to work in Opuwo? Is the health ministry not paying them enough?” asked Tjindunda.
The Kunene health regional director, Thomas Shapumba, when contacted for comment said Opuwo hospital is not the only health facility in the region that provides healthcare services.
“There are other health facilities staffed to give the necessary services. The only difference is that the Opuwo clinics and health centres have no medical officers (doctors) due to shortages in the country, hence patients would go to Opuwo where the doctors are,” he explained.
Shapumba too referred to the vastness of the Kunene and Opuwo in particular. “The terrain is so bad that at times we have to bring in government helicopters to reach some difficult-to-reach areas. There is only one district hospital in the entire former Kaokoland - which is Opuwo,” said Shapumba. There are two health centres and 13 clinics in the former Kaokoland.
“All were established to render health services. Generally, doctors and nurses are not enough. The shortage is felt everywhere. But the Ministry of Health and Social Services is working on the matter to improve the staffing situation.”
With regard to clinics and health centres not operating on weekends and after hours, Shapumba said: “That’s the operational requirement at the clinic level. If there is an emergency case, a nurse is obliged to attend to that patient in order to save lives.”
New Era Reporter
2018-06-06 09:15:28 | 1 years ago