RUNDU – Women in labour and those with new-borns in the maternity ward of the Rundu intermediate hospital are shivering from the current spell of cold weather due to the lack of space on the mattresses sprawled in the corridors they sleep.
When New Era visited the hospital ward, women could be seen on mattresses from the door, toilet corridors, in every space next to the beds and next to the nurse station. There was, ironically, no room for social distancing and no medical masks could be seen with the mothers accommodated there. In 2014, government decided to construct a new maternity ward to resolve the shortage of space to improve maternity services in the Kavango East region. The region is characterised by a high birth rate.
“We are here, in the corridor, with our babies, enduring the cold floors; we don’t have a choice,” said one mother with a new-born on a mattress in the corridor of the Rundu maternity ward.
Overcrowding has been the norm for decades at the Rundu hospital, resulting in the public bitterly complaining about this long-running issue.
“The situation is critical but we have to provide them with the service they need; we can’t refuse patients seeking health service, so we have to accommodate them, although the way they are being accommodated is not conducive,” said hospital superintendent Dr Joseph Mukerenge.
“From us, as the hospital, there’s nothing we can do. The ministry needs to sort out the new maternity ward because the condition we are operating in is not conducive at all.”
Mukerenge further referred this reporter to the health ministry for details on the delay of the new maternity ward.
However, New Era could not manage to get hold of the executive director in the health ministry, Ben Nangombe, regarding the delayed construction of the new maternity ward in Rundu.
This publication understands the delay has been due to a row between the contractor and the ministry of health, coupled with budget constraints.
Once completed, the ward will have 200 beds for expectant mothers, two operating theatres and a new ward, specifically for premature babies.
Summerstone Contractors, who are in charge of the project, were recently quoted to have said they have given 31 July as the provisional practical handover date. They said the only outstanding issue is the installation of a medical gas plant.