The Katima Mulilo District Hospital is in dire need of an intensive care unit (ICU), the Zambezi Regional Health Directorate has said.
The lack of an ICU has made it difficult for the biggest hospital in Zambezi to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic currently sweeping across the entire country.
The region has recorded 1 076 confirmed coronavirus infections from more than 8 400 tests conducted so far, while 22 people have died from complications linked to the virus and 115 cases are still active.
Zambezi regional health director Agnes Mwilima revealed the lack of an ICU at the hospital during a media briefing yesterday, when she was giving an update on the region's Covid-19 situation.
Mwilima said the hospital only has a 16-bed isolation area where patients needing intensive care are currently being admitted. She said a fully-fledged ICU was needed to care for critical patients, especially with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country proving to be more lethal.
"The national [health] level should expedite the construction of an ICU at the Katima district hospital as soon as possible. It is needed now more than ever because most of the Covid-19 patients need oxygen. We sometimes run out of oxygen and we get assistance from the two Kavango regions which are sending us oxygen," Mwilima said.
She further noted that the turnout for Covid-19 vaccinations was still low in the region as only 2 186 vaccine doses had been administered so far.
She attributed the low turnout to misinformation being spread about Covid-19 vaccines on social media.
"In Zambezi region, we have reported 22 Covid-19 related deaths so far, of which 11 died before the vaccination campaign.
However, the other 11 died after we started the vaccination campaign and none of them were vaccinated," she said.
Mwilima further noted that there was a need for cross-border laboratory coordination to ensure presentation of authentic results, as well as additional staff to be appointed in vacant positions in the approved health structure.
She said there was an urgent need to construct isolation facilities at health centres and clinics where suspected novel coronavirus cases can be isolated while awaiting referral to the district hospital, while logistics to procure and distribute equipment, especially additional computers needed for data management and coordination, must be put in place.
Mwilima appealed for mobile phones to be provided to help with the tracking and monitoring of patients.
The lack of a testing site at Impalila Island, lack of infrastructure at all points of entry for port health officials and community members not adhering to Covid-19 preventative measures were also cited as some of the challenges the Zambezi regional health directorate was facing.
Health and social services minister Kalumbi Shangula, during a visit to the region in May, noted that the health ministry was working on documentation to set up an ICU at Katima Mulilo hospital.