By Hilary Mare
NAMIBIA’S health system aims to improve and maintain the well-being of its citizens by providing services to prevent and cure diseases, rehabilitate those who have suffered illness and promote good health but while the public health system is national, huge variations exist in the allocation of resources, the performance of different facilities and health workers, the needs of different communities and the successes and challenges in different regions.
Essentially in an interview with Confidente, Health Minister Dr Berhard Haufiku revealed how Government is poised to deal with regional health sector challenges and revolutionise the complete health industry by the year 2020 possibly- the birth and construction of regional health hubs.
Architectural designs seen by this publication also indicate that these health hubs that will come in the form of huge specialised hospitals that will have capacity to serve a whole region inclusive of nearby towns relieving patients from continuously needing to travel to Windhoek for medical care, will come in different phases with the first phase targeting to construct health hubs in Otjiwarongo, Nkurenkuru, Swakopmund and Ondangwa and the second phase targeting Katima Mulilo and Opuwo. “We looked at the distance, population and the disease profile of a place. The areas with the highest burden of diseases with the most need and most distant from Windhoek are the areas we looked at. We also looked at critical areas of need that people can die if they do not get urgent care such as the dialysis of kidneys and we also plan to build kidney dialysis centres in Windhoek, Rundu and Oshakati very soon,” he said.
The Minister went on to stress the need to strengthen regional hospitals stating that everything from that plans and the costing has already been done and that it would be beneficial for the nation to place specialists in these areas with the hubs looking to house all medical departments and their specialists.
“We do not want traffic of people having to travel from the regions to Windhoek hence the need to put up the infrastructure and the labour force to boost our health delivery system. We would also want to train health community workers who will also aid in the delivery of medicines in our communities so that our health services are located at the closest distance to those needing health care,” he added. Currently Government pays the bulk of health service costs. Since 1990, the huge chunk of the national budget has gone to MOHSS and current allocations of expenditure reflect the change in emphasis from curative services focused on hospitals to providing primary health care involving education, immunisation and treatment. However the ministry is looking to a private partner to invest in the health hubs with the minister having reiterated that the invitation has been out already and interest has been seen from international investors with timelines set to commission the hubs at the earliest time possible.
“We want a private investor to come and build these facilities and as Government we mortgage the hospitals that will require an investment of about an average of N$20 billion in the next 10 years and about 1,5 to 2 billion a year. They will build this hospital for us and manage it for us because Government has no capacity to manage these medical facilities. So the investors will put it up and bring the personnel that will manage and also train our people in Government. We will pay them a fee which will include capital investments, training and equipment they would have provided,” he added. The Minister stressed that Government had received a few offers already and the minister will also table this investment opportunity at the Namibia Investment Conference slated for November 8. The ministry further plans to build a laboratory in Okahandja that will serve the purpose of disease surveillance research purposes and prevention of disaster which would see the ministry not needed to send some of its specimen samples to South Africa for testing.
Since the future is about the people, Vision 2030 concerns itself with the population in relation to their social, economic and overall well-being. In line with this goal presented by the Ministry of Health, the vision will transform Namibia into a healthy and food-secure nation, in which all preventable, infectious and parasitic diseases (including HIV/AIDS) are under secure control, people enjoy high standards of living, a good quality of life and have access to quality education, health and other vital services. All of these aspirations translate into a long life expectancy and sustainable population growth.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015