Opposition leader McHenry Venaani has called on government to consider building a new state hospital alongside the 50-year-old Katutura Intermediate Hospital to help fight infectious diseases such as the prevailing Covid-19.
“Hospitals are filling up beyond capacity and our state hospitals are on their last legs. Our people cannot continue to suffer in a dilapidated state hospital where many feel they are sent to die,” the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader said on Saturday during the opening of his party’s central committee meeting in Windhoek. He recommended that a new phase two hospital be constructed, while refurbishing the Katutura hospital.
“A number of media outlets have reported on the exhaustion of our hospitals, especially right here in the Khomas region, where the ministry of health has requested reinforcement from other regions,” he said.
Namibia is now in the third wave of Covid-19 infections with a sharp increase in positive cases, deaths as well as hospitalisations. Health executive director Ben Nangombe last week confirmed Namibia’s third wave of the pandemic, as it experienced a sharp surge in cases over the last few days. By Saturday, Namibia had recorded 905 Covid-19 deaths, 58 057 cumulative confirmed cases, with 75 964 persons who had received their first vaccine doses. Venaani said the trajectory of the worsening novel coronavirus has been on an upward one.
“Namibia, like all other countries is entangled with this plague. Whilst the health minister may have downplayed the possibility of a third wave hitting the country, back in March, it is clear for us to see that as President Biden put it – ‘it is going to get worse before it gets better’,” he said.
“From the period between 24 May and 1 June 2021, the country recorded an exorbitant 86 deaths. Coupled with these worrying statistics, is the current lack of oxygen in our hospitals. We have already seen what dangers a continued lack of oxygen poses, as the situation in India grew perilous. The third wave has indeed hit Namibia. On 3 June, this country recorded a record high 717 new cases,” he added.
He said the Katutura hospital is now widely considered a symbol of death. “Booking into this hospital is essentially signing your death certificate. Covid-19 has exposed our healthcare system.
Meanwhile, right across the street, the N$700 million Swapo head office stares back at patients in desperate need of medical equipment,” he further said. Additionally, he said a new health policy must be reengineered and implemented to address the new challenges that emerge.
“The pandemic has forced us to think on our feet and be as innovative as possible. The Namibian government has exerted efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, however, the cases have been increasing,” he said.
“We must change what is not working. A daily newspaper recently reported that 63% of Namibians feel that praying the vaccine away is more effective than having the shot administered to them.
We must probe this vaccine hesitancy and encourage our people to go and take the shot.”