Namibia: Hospital Boss Draws Flak Over Memo

21 October 2019

Windhoek — A memo issued by Katutura State Hospital medical superintendent Dr Fady Ashmawy, which discourages staff employed at the referral health facility not to seek treatment there, has been frowned upon by a nurses union.

In a short memo seen by this newspaper, Ashmawy wrote to staff at the Katutura hospital, encouraging them to make use of their medical aid benefits and seek treatment at private doctors when they fall ill.

Ashmawy said in an internal memo the hospital has noticed with great concern that staff members despite having medical aid, are getting medical care at the Katutura hospital.

"Please take note that sick leave certificates issued at Katutura hospital for the hospital staff will not be accepted anymore," he said in a memo dated 7 October.

However, the Namibian Nurses Union (NANU), who labelled the memo as "ill-advised", rubbished this.

"The ill-advised memo states that all sick leave certificates issued to Katutura hospital staff from Katutura hospital will not be accepted anymore," said the union acting secretary-general, Junias Shilunga on Friday.

"This simply means, if a nurse falls ill or collapses on duty, then according to the superintendent of the Katutura hospital, such a nurse must not receive medical assistance from his/her colleagues but she/ he must go to a private hospital/clinic to receive medical attention," he added.

He said the union confirmation is that Ashmawy memo is contradicting the ministry core values and the patient charter.

"We are therefore calling Ashmawy to retract his ill-advised directive and allow the hospital staff to access medical attention from any hospital of their choice without any fear of retribution," he said. He said Ashmawy has no faith in his medical doctors or suspecting that his own colleagues are not giving legit sick leave certificates, it is better for him to deal directly with them and not to compromise the health of innocent staff.

"We are also calling on the minister of health Dr Kalumbi Shangula to launch an urgent investigation on the conduct of Dr Ashmawy and root out the reasons for his mistrust of the very same hospital he leads," he said.

"We call upon our nurses to continue seeking medical attention anywhere they prefer and no amount of plastic threats and draconian rules from Ashmawy should stop them in anyway whatsoever."

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