• May 27th, 2019
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How the shortage of medicine in state facilities is affecting one family



Alvine Kapitako

WINDHOEK - Last year in April, 13-year-old Fillimon George collapsed and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital. 


It was then that he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, his 38-year old mother, Klaudia Hambiya told New Era on Wednesday.
Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.


Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to Type 1 diabetes. Although Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.


Despite active research, Type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Life has never been the same since her son’s diagnosis, says Hambiya who narrated her story from her shack in One Nation informal settlement of Ombili. 
The children occasionally stood to listen to their mother who shared their hardships with New Era but for the most part of the interview, they played and went about their business. 


Hambiya says the shock of learning that her son was diabetic was not the only challenge she had to deal with. 
Apart from accepting that her son had to adopt a healthy lifestyle, often with little money or means to get money, Hambiya had to deal with the constant challenge of being told that the prescribed medication for her 13-year old son was not available in state health facilities. 
 “Fillimon was staying with his father’s relatives in the north but I had to bring him to Windhoek where I live because he was always sick,” narrated Hambiya from her shack. 


“We have to sometimes buy medicine from the private pharmacies because they are unavailable in the state facilities. George uses protaphane and actrapid, which he injects on his stomach. But protaphane is rarely available in state facilities so we have to buy at the private pharmacy,” explained Hambiya. 


Protaphane is a suspension for injection that contains the active substance human insulin.
Actrapid is human insulin to treat diabetes. Actrapid is a fast-acting insulin. It lowers blood sugar about half an hour after administered, and the effect will last for approximately eight hours. 


Actrapid is often given in combination with longer-acting insulin products, according to the Medikamo website.  She also has to buy test stripes to monitor her son’s blood glucose levels. 

Hambiya who is unemployed said she is struggling to care for George and his two younger siblings-Lasalinde Kamati who is 10-years-old and Tobias Kamati who is two years old. 


George has been out of school since last year when he relocated to Windhoek. 
“I was unable to find a school for him. I tried but he did not get a school to enroll him, so he stayed home this year,” explained Hambiya. 
She recently moved out of a shack where she lived with the father of her last born. 


“The relationship ended and we had to move out. I don’t know what to do at this stage because he was the one who assisted us financially and now I don’t have anything,” said Hambiya, saying she does not even have money to start a small business. 
It has not been an easy journey, having a son who is diabetic while barely making ends meet. 
“I have a letter from our community leader stating reasons why I need to be registered for the food bank programme but until now we don’t benefit from the food bank,” she said. 


Just last week, she went to the office of the councillor in Moses Garoëb Constituency (part of One Nation falls under Moses Garoëb Constituency). 


“The councillor gave us two kilograms of sugar, oros and rice. But that is because that is what remained after the people identified as eligible received the donation,” she explained. And when there is no food at all, George is the first priority. 
“Even if there is only one piece of meat, he has to eat that because he cannot stay hungry. When he is hungry he collapses and it is difficult because he is on a special diet,” she said, asking George to give her a blue pocket file. 
Showing New Era the list of food items, Hambiya looks worried. “I cannot afford that,” she states before going through the list with this reporter. What stands out is that George needs to have a snack every two hours. “When he stays hungry he collapses,” said Hambiya.  
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe recently said in an interview with New Era that there are challenges with respect to the procurement of medicines. 
“This must be understood in the context of how we manage our distribution chain from the placing of orders, receiving of the orders and the distribution of the orders to the facilities and to the Regional Medical Stores. I wouldn’t want to say that there is a constant shortage. Yes, there are challenges and these challenges are related to sometimes the nature of our procurement system,” Nangombe said in an exclusive interview with New Era.  
 


Alvine Kapitako
2018-12-14 11:14:02 5 months ago

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