The health ministry has allocated N$1.3 million earmarked to compensate homestead owners at Ondangwa in order to pave way for the development of a state-of-the-art 1 000-bed referral hospital.
In 2018, Cabinet gave the go ahead for the referral hospital to be constructed in Ondangwa ahead of Ongwediva in the Oshana region.
The envisaged hospital will serve the six northern regions, namely Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene and part of Kavango West.
The project has failed to kick off in the last three years due to financial constraints and it will likely not materialise in the current financial year.
Last week, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula gave an update on the status of the project following questions by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Johannes Martin.
According to Shangula, the Ondangwa hospital and the National Academic Hospital were two distinct projects within the development programme of expenditure of the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The minister said the ministry has taken note of the unavailability of funding through the medium-term expenditure framework and within the government coffers.
Additionally, he indicated, the directive from the NPC is that priority should be given to ongoing projects with active activities, whose tenders were awarded, and contract signed as well as projects with contractual obligations.
Since 2016, the health ministry has been in consultation with the finance ministry for guidance on the financing of the project, Shangula said.
“Private investment in the social sector is challenging concerning return on investment. The Ministry of Health and Social Services will however continue to engage the Ministry of Finance in finding a funding model for the social sector for the projects to be realised. These projects are alive and will be realised sooner than later. They remain our priorities,” he said.
Shangula explained the Ondangwa Town Council granted approval to the health ministry for Erf No.2372, of which the ministry will utilise 19 hectares for site development at no cost.
The condition granted was for the ministry to cover the cost of compensation of the homesteads. The homesteads are within the boundaries of the development. He said the amount for compensation is N$1.3 million.
However, he clarified the compensation has not yet been effected.
The activities that have been undertaken for the development of the feasibility study are health research and planning, environmental impact assessment, transport impact assessment, topography and geotechnical surveys, architectural concept design, quantity surveying, and multidisciplinary engineering. The total cost for the activities undertaken is N$4.1 million.
Shangula also stated the ministry remains committed towards the development of the two facilities, including other facilities such as the Khomas district hospital, Nkurenkuru district hospital, Otjiwarongo regional referral hospital, and the establishment of a radiotherapy unit at Oshakati state hospital.
The annual allocation to the ministry for infrastructure development for the past three years has averaged around N$300 million.
“This allocation is primarily for the construction of new clinics, upgrading of clinics, upgrading of health centres, and the upgrading of various components within the hospitals. This allocation is therefore insufficient to undertake the envisaged new district hospitals,” he remarked.
A presidential commission of inquiry into the affairs of the health ministry instituted by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2012 recommended to government for the construction of district hospitals for Khomas and Oshana regions to alleviate overcrowding at the two intermediate hospitals, namely Katutura and Oshakati.
In response to the commission’s recommendations, the health ministry developed a road map for health facility upgrading, human resource development, and the establishment of specialised services and institutions.
“Due to referrals and long-distance travelled, a need was identified for the development of a National Academic Hospital in northern Namibia. The facility will cater to the population in this area to receive the specialised services required. The hospital shall serve as a referral hospital, providing specialist services, undertaking research and training for both undergraduate and postgraduate medical students,” Shangula said.