Namibia: Only 18 ICU Beds in Public Health Sector

The country has a shortage of beds in its ICU wards.

THERE are only 18 intensive care unit beds at 350 centres in the public health sector in the whole country.

This was revealed by health minister Kalumbi Shangula in the National Assembly on Tuesday, when responding to questions by Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani.

Venaani last week alleged that there were only eight intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the public health sector for the whole country when he was contributing to his motion on the public sector's medical aid fund.

In his response, Shangula said the total number of intensive care unit beds in Namibia are in fact 18, and not eight as claimed by the PDM president.

Shangula said in addition to 18 beds in the public health sector, there are 67 intensive care unit beds in private hospitals.

The government has 357 health facilities (clinics, health centres, district hospitals and intermediate and national referral hospitals) and 1 150 outreach points.

The minister confirmed that all these public health facilities were catered for by 18 intensive care unit beds only.

He said eight beds were at the Windhoek Central Hospital, six at the Oshakati State Hospital, and four at the Onandjokwe State Hospital.

There are no paediatric ICU beds in the public sector, according to the minister.

Private hospitals have a combined 43 general ICU beds and 24 paediatric ICU beds.

"In the private sector, we have 27 ICU beds at the Lady Pohamba Private Hospital, 14 in MediCity, 16 at the Rhino Park Private Hospital, and 10 at the Roman Catholic Hospital," he explained.

Shangula said the government plans to procure 10 paediatric ICU beds for the Windhoek Central Hospital.

He did not mention how much it would cost to procure the 10 beds.

Venaani, however, was not impressed with the revelation by the minister, saying it only reveals that the public health sector was in a "deep crisis".

He said the number of ICU beds mentioned by the minister points to a conclusion that the government was not taking care of the public's health.

Many people die every day because they cannot be admitted into the public health sector's ICU due to overcrowding, and that the beds at private hospitals were expensive and not affordable to the majority of the population, Venaani added.

"There are only 375 000 Namibians on medical aid, including those on the government's scheme. The rest of the population, nearly two million Namibians, must rely on 18 beds. That is a crisis. When you are over 70 years old, you don't get a chance to go to the ICU because there are no beds.

"The ICU beds in the private sector cost N$40 000 per day. So, Namibians are being killed every day because we are not servicing them with the beds," he stressed.

Venaani yesterday also claimed that public hospitals at the moment had no amoxicillin antibiotics, and other relevant equipment used to treat patients.

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