By Confidente Reporter
THE Pupkewitz Foundation donated 100 bicycles towards the health ministry’s health extension workers programme valued at N$130 000 during a colourful event in the capital recently. An additional 100 bicycles will be donated at a later stage.
The foundation’s CEO, Meryl Barry said that by equipping health extension workers with bicycles that are fitted with monolights, they can travel faster and further and reach out to more patients countrywide. “Each day they wake up with one thing on their minds, to better the health of their communities by moving around screening people for various diseases, amongst others. The job can often be difficult as health workers travel over 20 kilometres per day despite weather conditions.
“The handover of the 100 fully fitted bicycles with monolights will enable the MOHSS through their health extension workers to better carry out their critical work of providing better access to primary health care services, namely equity in health care, availability of health care, accessibility to health care, affordability of health care and community involvement in health care.
“This donation acknowledges the clear link between transport and health care, as well as the shifting burden away from the patient and on to the health care as well as shifting the burden of transport away from the patient and on to the health care provider.”
She added that with the donation of the much needed bicycles, she hopes that health workers will deliver better standard of health care services in child, maternal, neonatal and nutrition, family planning, malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS, social welfare and first aid.
“Health extension workers are well positioned in their communities to provide timely management of conditions that mothers and caregivers would receive at outpatient facilities. It is our sincere hope that these bicycles will contribute to this worthy initiative by providing increased health awareness and built local communities’ capacity for greater access, involvement and participation in primary health care interventions. Training to service and maintaining the bicycles by an SME in Oshakati for an additional fee for our account is arranged,” Barry said.
Accepting the bicycles on behalf of the ministry, Deputy Minister Juliet Kavetuna said that 1 660 health extension workers have been trained and deployed countrywide while 582 are currently undergoing training in nine regions. The ministry plans to have 4 113 health extension workers by the end of the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
“As we are all aware of the sparsely distribution of our population, this is one of the main challenges facing the health extension workers as they have to walk long distances on a daily basis in order to cover the households allocated to them. They endure the sunny, rainy, sandy and rocky conditions but this does not deter them from providing essential services to the needy. This therefore signifies the need for all of us to be innovative in identifying modes of transport as well as protective clothing which may be relevant for use by our health extension workers during their practice,” Kavetuna said.
UNICEF officer-in-charge, Marcus Betts commended the ministry for the health extension workers robust programme, which he said has become a mechanism to encourage better health-seeking behaviour, and one which contributes to reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
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