Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Sesriem Clinic Treats All the Sick

The emergency response unit based at Sesriem and financed by the Mayte Hernandez Foundation for the purpose of assisting crash victims, is doubling as a community clinic for the few inhabitants of this remote corner of the Hardap Region.

In a statement released earlier this week, the MVA Fund said community members had to travel long distance for medical assistance. "The nearest clinic from Sesriem is in Maltahöhe which is 170km away." Access to quality health care and emergency medical response for road crash survivors remain a high priority for the MVA Fund to minimise loss of life during medical emergencies.

The Mayte Emergency Medical Center, a 10-bed, full-service health centre was constructed at a cost of N$6 million in memory of the late Mayte Hernandez, a Spanish national who died after a fatal road crash near Sesriem in 2010.

A lack of an emergency medical service at Sesriem was partly to blame for her death. Her fiancée, Charles Hayoz, who survived the crash established the Mayte Hernandez Foundation and entered into an agreement with the MVA Fund to engage in a broad public education approach for crash and injury prevention and to establish an emergency medical response centre to serve the medical needs of Sesriem and surrounding district.

Hayoz invested N$10 million over five years in the project of which N$900,000 is allocated to the publishing and distribution of 100,000 copies of road safety brochures. The brochure are printed in five languages, French, English, Spanish, Italian and German to inform self-driving tourists of local driving conditions. On its part, the MVA Fund committed N$4 million to the project for five years.

"Having a medical centre in our community is a relief considering the distance we used to travel for medical care. People used to suffer a great deal and even die due to lack of medical services. I have been to the center myself a few times. If we did not have this centre in this area people would have suffered more, says Esmeralda Rooinasie, Sesriem resident. Launched in November 2011, the centre is now in full operation and is manned by a registered nurse and three Basic Life Support personnel and two Emergency Care Technicians. They were trained through the MVA Fund's bursary scheme.

Since its launch the centre has responded to 84 medical emergencies ranging from road crash injuries to insect bites, allergic reactions and even asthma attacks. The nurse, Immanuel Kalumbu, says the Mayte EMRS Center is a hive of activity throughout the month. On average, the center treats 20 patients per month, and emergencies are responded to with an average response time of 40 minutes in a 150km radius.

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