WINDHOEK - The Permanent Secretary of Health and Social Services, Andrew Ndishishi, says there is a growing concern that the lack of routine maintenance of health facilities leads to the degradation and reduction in the lifespan of State infrastructure.
This state of affairs negatively impacts both on the quality of health-care services, as well as on the long-term sustainability of the service and value of State assets, says the PS.
Of late, the poor state of public health facilities and the quality of health services around the country have come under intense public scrutiny and criticism for a number of reasons, ranging from poor hygiene and sanitation at public health facilities and alleged negligence that has led to fatalities at some State hospitals in recent months.
Health officials have also been criticised for alleged bad behaviour towards patients. This week newly-appointed health permanent secretary Ndishishi said there is an urgent need to undertake a comprehensive situational analysis and facilitate the process of formulating a plan on infrastructure and buildings, that need to be maintained and upgraded, as well as to provide broadly defined budget guidelines.
“Currently there is no uniform or structured system in place for assessing building conditions and it is therefore not possible to establish from available data a profile of the condition of all the ministry’s health facilities. “Most of the health facilities are older than 40 years and need to be upgraded,” he argued in support of a call for expressions of interest by consultants to appraise and identify health facilities in immediate need of upgrading. It is against this background that the ministry is inviting suitably qualified and experienced consultants to furnish the ministry with a uniform technical appraisal of the condition of identified public medical health facilities throughout the country, as a matter of urgency.
The Department of Works in the Ministry of Works and Transport is currently in the process of upgrading a number of medical facilities throughout the country.
“These processes will proceed unhindered and the consultant will not be required to assess the new work commissioned by the department of works,” Ndishishi explained.
The consultant is expected to, among other things, identify priority areas where infrastructure and buildings need to be upgraded as a matter of urgency. Further, the consultant has to identify where facilities need to be demolished, maintained or upgraded. The ultimate purpose of the contract is to put the ministry in a position to review the condition of all medical facilities using one uniform set of standards to make it aware of emergency and priority areas where action has to be taken with immediate effect.
“The ministry recognises that cost-effective and efficient maintenance practices are key to optimise the life expectancy of buildings and equipment, to optimise long-term capital investments and to ensure acceptable reliabilities of critical equipment and systems.
“Without cost-effective and efficient maintenance practices supporting the development of new medical infrastructure, capital investment programmes will be severely hampered and the reliability of critical equipment and systems that in some cases protect the lives of patients, will be jeopardised,” Ndishishi said.
The exercise is expected to commence next month. The duration of the assessments in the north-east and west of the country are expected to last for five weeks, while work in the south and central Namibia will last four weeks.