Namibia: Health Council to Investigate Clinic Death

20 September 2019

The Health Professions Council of Namibia will investigate the case of a patient who died in a queue at the Robert Mugabe Clinic in Windhoek last month.

The Namibian reported that Laimi Nandjembo (36) died while waiting for assistance in line at that clinic on 21 August.

Nandjembo died after allegedly waiting for help for four hours, and making three unsuccessful attempts for security guards to summon assistance for her.

Afterwards, health executive director Ben Nangombe said the ministry had carried out an investigation into her death, which concluded that the health personnel on duty acted to the best of their abilities, and in the best interest of the patient under the prevailing circumstances.

However, the People's Litigation Centre (PLC) wrote to the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA), demanding an independent investigation into the incident.

In a letter addressed to Umunee Matundu of the PLC seen by The Namibian, HPCNA registrar Cornelius Weyulu said the investigation into Nandjembo's death will be conducted by the preliminary investigation committee of the Nursing Council of Namibia.

"Our office will first venture into [the] fact-finding process by obtaining documents and statements relating to the incident. Thereafter, the matter will be presented to the committee for a recommendation to council," explained Weyulu.

Speaking to The Namibian on Wednesday, senior manager of legal services at the HPCNA, Johanna Nghishekwa, clarified that the Nursing Council is a body created in terms of the Nursing Act (Act no 8 of 2004). One of its functions is to investigate complaints of unprofessional conduct or negligence against registered health practitioners.

"Such function is assigned to a committee of the council, the preliminary investigation committee. A committee investigates complaints from members of the public," she added. Investigations could also take place when the council is informed about allegations of unprofessional conduct or negligence, without a complaint having been filed.

In the case of Nandjembo, the process of investigation has already commenced.

Nghishekwa added that the investigation carried out by the Nursing Council is being done in terms of the law. Therefore, investigations by the council and any action taken from there are governed by the provisions of the applicable act.

"If any other entity has conducted an investigation into this matter, such as the Ministry of Health and Social Services, as an employer, such investigation is conducted in terms of the employment relationship between the ministry and the staff of the particular clinic," she stated.

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