By Hileni Nembwaya
THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has received about 10 000 HIV/AIDS rapid test kits after many health facilities have been experiencing a shortage of test kit supplies for several months.
Last week, the health ministry received the donations valued at N$200 000 from a Chinese based pharmaceutical company, NAMAX.
Juliet Kavetuna, the Deputy Health Minister who received the donations said that the kits will save lives as they would ensure people get access to treatment when they are tested and are found HIV positive.
“Furthermore, those that would get to know their status will put in measures not to get infected or to pass the virus to other people,” she said.
Kavetuna further called on the local and international businesses to get on board and contribute towards the Namibian public health sector with similar gestures.
She said that the test kits will be distributed state health facilities as the need arises.
Many health facilities especially in Oshana region are facing ongoing crises with a shortage of HIV test kit supplies which are putting unborn babies at risk of HIV and other infections.
According to a nurse at a primary health clinic in Ongwediva who preferred not to be named, the HIV test kits have been in short supply since last month and there have not been any HIV tests conducted at that health facility ever since.
“Some health facilities have a few HIV testing kits that are mainly reserved for pregnant people only, while many like our clinic have run out of stock already. We do not know whether the problem lies with the supplies or whether someone somewhere is not doing their jobs efficiently,” said the health worker.
The HIV test kits are vital for testing pregnant women and anyone who wants to determine their HIV status and access treatment if needed, however with the diminishing number of kits at a time when they are needed most, is causing many a high risk to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Earlier this week, a Confidente reporter visited the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital to seek for medical attention and undergo an HIV test; however to her shock she was told that the hospital is not conducting any HIV tests at the moment as the hospital has ran out of HIV test kits. “We are not conducting any HIV tests at the moment because the hospital has run out of HIV test kits supply, perhaps you can try out other health facilities neighbouring the region. This is a matter affecting the whole region,” said a nurse who preferred to remain anonymous.
Many of those who hoped to get tested and know their HIV status were turned away and told to come back next week by the health workers.
One of the patients that spoke to Confidente angrily about the matter expressed her dismay saying that it is unfortunate for a big hospital to run out of HIV test kits with only a few reserved for pregnant women while there is none for men. “I do not know what is going on here. How can a hospital like Oshakati that caters for the whole region run out of HIV test kits? And to make matter worse they are not giving us definite answers. This is a crisis for the whole region and something needs to be done before it goes out of hand,” said an HIV test hopeful.
Several attempts to get comments from the regional health director of Oshana, Sakaria Taapopi proved futile as he was said to be caught up in endless meetings.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015