20 March 2018

Namibia: Katima Hospital Runs Out of Essentials

Katima Mulilo — The Katima Mulilo State Hospital is running low on essential supplies, and on several occasions state patients who visited the hospital were told to go to a pharmacy to buy for themselves whatever was prescribed by doctors.

One of the patients who spoke to New Era could not hide his disappointment after he was sent to the pharmacy to buy a crêpe bandage because the hospital did not have any.

"They told me they don't have anything and that I had to buy the bandage from the pharmacy. At that time, I didn't have any money, so I went home frustrated and in pain. However, when the pain persisted I went to the pharmacy and the pharmacist recommended that I buy a neoprene ankle support as my ankle was swollen and in pain," said the complainant who is a retiree.

"Imagin, they simply don't have crêpe bandages, so what are they going to do with someone with a broken leg?" he asked.

New Era was informed the hospital is also running low on medications and on several occasions patients were just given Panado, regardless of what illness they had.

"Currently there are no medications for blood pressure, meaning someone who suffers from blood pressure has to go to a pharmacy to buy the medication. I know of a friend who is sharing the medicine for BP with his wife, because every time he goes to the hospital to collect the medicine he is told that the medications are finished," a source told New Era.

Contacted for comment the Zambezi Regional Director of Health Agnes Mwilima asked to be sent the questions, and she would only respond to them next week.

"I cannot respond immediately. I have to inquire from the people who are running the hospital before I can respond," she said.

Some hospitals also have to endure overworked nurses and the patient-nurse ratio is said to be high because currently the government is not renewing the contracts of expatriate nurses from Zimbabwe whose expertise had to be enlisted to boost efficiency at state hospitals.

It appears the current shortage is linked to the current cash challenge facing the government, which some politicians have downplayed during their meetings with members of the community.

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