Namibia: Shortage of Anti-Psychotic Drugs Hits Hospital

29 October 2020

Nurses at Oshakati state hospital are complaining of being attacked by patients at the psychiatric ward due to shortage of anti-psychotic medication.

Anti-psychotic is medicine used to treat symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, thought disturbances, lack of interest and apathy, among others, that are associated with mental disorders like psychosis.

"We are being attacked on a daily basis and the government is not doing anything to supply enough anti-psychotic medications; we are in danger; we have a colleague who is currently on leave after having been attacked and injured by an aggrieved patient," said a nurse at the northern-based referral hospital.

The nurse, who declined to be identified, said their lives are in danger due to aggressive behaviour of some mental health patients.

According to the nurse, this has been ongoing for more than two months.

"This ward experiences difficulties sourcing the medication; we are now waiting for the medical board to approve sourcing after writing letters to them. We only gave them until yesterday (Monday) to answer our request," the nurse said.

Oshana health regional director Johanna Haimene said the hospital has enough medicines, medical items and other pharmaceuticals.

"Early this year, we faced a serious shortage of medicines, but now the stock level stood at 90%. The incident that happened lately has nothing to do with the medicines," Haimene explained, referring to an incident where a nurse was reportedly attacked by a mental health patient.

Haimene insisted the patient was just fine, claiming the attack was not triggered by a shortage of medicine. She added the patient simply wanted to be discharged.

However, another nurse at the psychiatric ward claimed some patients were becoming aggressive because of a shortage of medicine to help calm them down.

"We are tired; it is not safe anymore. Those who are entrusted with power don't care because they are not on the ground, and again they are not telling the truth because they are protecting their salary and positions," the nurse, who humbly requested anonymity, said.

Shikongo Martin from Oneshila, who has been taking anti-psychotic medication since 2017, told New Era he went to collect his medicine last month and was told they are out of stock.

"This forced me to go buy the medicines from the private pharmacies, although my salary is not enough," Martin explained.

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