By William J. Mbangula ONAYENA The health centre at Onayena has outlived its life span and is currently falling apart. The Minister of Health Richard Kamwi said this during an urgent visit to Onayena, where he noted the centre has become a danger to patients and to staff, which makes it a liability rather than an asset for the Government. Following an outcry from the community through Oshikoto Regional Governor Penda ya Ndakolo, the minister rushed to Onayena to explain the reasons for the delay in the construction of the new health centre. According Kamwi, financial authorisation for the year 2005/2006 was only approved in August last year. Onayena and Fransfontein near Khorixas were some of the health centres put on the capital projects of the Ministry of Health as priorities above priorities. All along he has been under the impression that everything was going according to plan. He thought the site was already handed over to the contractor in December last year. But to his surprise, he received a letter dated January 22, 2006 from the governor raising the plight of the community. As a result, he was forced to rush to the centre in order to see things for himself. The minister was shocked to see widespread cracks in the walls, sub-standard renovation and general poor conditions of the infrastructure. “The aim of my ministry is to provide efficient and quality health services under conducive conditions and with certified facilities, which is not the case at Onayena currently,” the minister said. Instead of the health centre here saving lives, he noted, the opposite may happen at any time because of the poor conditions of the facilities. Due to the bureaucratic procedures through which tenders will have to go, which may take up to six months, he is now obliged to plead with the Minister of Finance to relax tender procedures. This is due to the limited time frame before the end of the financial year. “Tender procedures are very cumbersome. At the same time, consultants and contractors who are controlled by the Department of Works are very slow in carrying out their duties. I would like to assure you that despite the fact that my hands are somehow tied, I will try my best to get you a modern health centre here,” he assured the community. He added that the Head of State and his counterparts at the ministries of Works and Finance support the efforts. Speaking at the same event, the Director of Health in Oshikoto region Maria Kavezembi commended the residents of Onayena constituency for raising their concerns through the right channels in a mature and responsible manner. Their plight will enjoy the highest attention of her office. She said about N$1,8 million has been budgeted for the construction of this health centre, which will also have a mortuary. Onayena health centre was initially established by Finnish missionaries in 1966 and was taken over by the government in its current form in 1970. It has 10 beds, about seven nurses, four institutional workers and two security guards. The centre is located in the middle of a constituency of about 17 000 people. About 80 patients visit the centre on a daily basis.
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