The Etunda clinic, situated some 30km north of Otjiwarongo on the road to Otavi, is living testimony of the Bible verse that says “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
The clinic, which is an initiative of Founding President Sam Nujoma who later handed it over to the government through the health ministry in 2017, continues to serve farm workers in the area. These are in particular farm workers who can’t afford to travel to nearby towns such as Otavi or Otjiwarongo for medical attention.
Nujoma came to their rescue by availing land on his farm, where good Samaritans came on board to assist to build a clinic through donations from good Samaritans and Ohorongo Cement so that the needy farm workers could access medical services.
They also donated medical equipment worth millions of dollars.
Once the school at Etunda is completed, the clinic will likewise serve the school population, in addition to the surrounding farms near Nujoma’s farm.
It also aims to cater for Otavi residents during peak hours.
The clinic is at Etunda, which is Nujoma’s farm on the B1 road between Otavi and Otjiwarongo.
When New Era visited recently, the facility was rather quiet.
The two registered nurses and a security guard at the clinic were waiting for patients from nearby farms.
One of the registered nurses stationed at Etunda clinic, Josephine Nampala, took this reporter through their daily activities and operations.
It also caters for truck drivers and passersby who may need their chronic medication.
The clinic starts operating at 08h00, and closes at 17h00.
Nampala said they work after hours sometimes when they have a lot of patients to attend to.
She explained that one cannot compare Etunda clinic with other clinics due to its set-up. “You will find the clinic empty during the day because workers are busy on the farms. They feel it’s their clinic made for them. You find that at exactly 17h00, the farm workers start coming to the clinic. There is no way you can send them back without attending to them. It is a different kind of set-up. They will tell you they should finish their farm work before they come to the clinic,” she noted.
The nurse stated that some patients don’t even have transport to reach the clinic, so they walk and get to the health facility very late.
Equally, some workers get lucky because farm owners bring them to the clinic with their cars for treatment.
The clinic offers health services such as deliveries, screening, day-to-day care, immunisation, male circumcision and HIV and Covid-19 testing, amongst others.
They get assistance from Otjiwarongo when it comes to emergencies which might require an ambulance.
The clinic is equipped with houses to accommodate the nurses on duty.
However, the staff members have pleaded with good Samaritans to donate a vehicle, as the clinic has no car.
This is a serious challenge because they can’t transport blood samples on time to the labs.
Another challenge facing the clinic is the constant power outages at the farm.
“The founding father made sure we have houses. The water is also fine. We need an ambulance to help transport our patients and blood samples to the lab. During the rainy season, the electricity is always off. It goes even up to two days without power. We don’t have a back-up generator for power. It’s not for ourselves. We have medicine, and it needs to be kept cool,” Nampala moaned.
This becomes tricky when they have to attend to patients at night.
“We are using our torches to attend to them. It’s a very serious challenge. Imagine, there is a delivery; what do you do without power? We are dealing with charcoal workers, and they are a lot around here. They are cutting themselves a lot with axes. Imagine, a person comes here with injuries, and there is no power. What do you do? We really need help with the power and transport issue,” she pleaded.
The nurses said due to a lack of transport, they are also unable to conduct outreach programmes.
Currently, outreach is done by the Otavi and Otjiwarongo health teams.
The clinic has two registered nurses, but it has no cleaner.
Nujoma, a revered liberation struggle icon of his generation, was born on 12 May 1929 at Etunda, a village in the Ongandjera area of the Omusati region.
He served as Namibian president for 15 years between 1990 and 2005.