Health Challenges for 2006


By Engel Nawatiseb TSUMEB – The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, says the health system in the country faces many challenges such as an aging population, increasing demand for more costly services as well as chronic medical workforce shortages. To help meet these challenges, government is undertaking a significant reshaping of health administration but could reap more positive results if all supporting pillars take ownership of the revamping initiative. She appealed to state medical practitioners to apply flexibility and to regard call-outs as an emergency to save the lives of patients that require professional medical care. The deputy minister urged the general public to take responsibility of their own health seriously, through exercise and eating better food that will protect them from ill health in future. “That should be the starting point to avert unnecessary health problems as a preventative step. Government has a responsibility to attend to the sick, but let us first try to avoid health complications because by so doing the process will definitely realise a number of benefits.” She stressed that such initiatives would create a forward-looking health system that will build better clinical networks that can deliver enhanced services to communities that are “really” vulnerable. She added that the negative attitude of health workers would thoroughly be dealt with during this year. Haingura lashed at nursing and administrative personnel who have failed to deliver services to their respective communities. She added that the medical profession is a call for service delivery, love and care, hence the need for health workers to show patriotism, sympathy, empathy and a sound relationship towards clients and patients. “Communities are complaining about our attitudes, dirty hospitals and clinics. They are saying that the nursing profession is deteriorating, and the situation at some health institutions is unhealthy and unacceptable. Please cleaners, you should clean and administrators or clerks should order cleaning materials to clean, and supervisors should supervise your subordinates properly.” Problems with regard to external cleanliness are mostly experienced during rainy seasons, when the grass grows tall at health facility yards. The shortage of 4X4 vehicles in most regions is reportedly another obstacle towards effective service delivery to the most remote areas. She called on health care advisory boards in the districts to put more efforts in advising health authorities against health threats in their areas of jurisdiction. “We recognise that community involvement in the health system is crucial and our ministry has taken steps through the establishment of the advisory bodies to ensure that clinicians and local communities are given a greater voice in health decision-making. The body is there to provide direct input to our members on the ground and to give a voice to the many communities who currently invest time and initiative in their local hospitals.” Haingura pointed out that meeting the growing demands of the national health system is a complex task and no single person could provide all the answers immediately, but that the process her ministry (government) has begun already provided a strong foundation for generations to come. “We have put down the foundations in support for various families, guaranteed nursing education for all, delivered personal care services for both young and old, created more warm household environments than ever before.” She added that government has also laid the building blocks for a growing economy by investing in skills of people across the country. “But we have more to do, therefore the New Year is a time to look forward to building a better Namibia of growth and opportunity for all. I am determined that our government will not only keep alive Namibia’s success, but we will shout long and loud at home and abroad about our achievements. We can all do more to highlight success and keep failure and disappointment in perspective.” She added: “My job, the job of our ministry is to understand those challenges and face them with you by working together as a team.”