By Petronella Sibeene OMATAKO Patients in the Tsumkwe area who are too poor to afford meals are left with no option but to take any medicine prescribed for them at the Omatako Clinic on empty stomachs. According to the enrolled nurse and midwife at the clinic, Adla Muruko, the hunger situation in the area is so critical that it forces her to share her food with her patients to enable them to take the medicine she prescribes. “I have raised the issue with my superior but nothing has been done about the situation. When Mangetti clinic gets food, they supply to us but honestly, I cannot remember the last time they did that,” she complained. In a day, Muruko treats between 10 and 20 people, most of them suffering from diarrhoea, malaria and other ills. Despite a recent workshop by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in its effort to boost morale and value of public health workers, Muruko like other nurses in rural areas remains demoralized, as working conditions are poor. As the National Council Standing Committee on Regional Development reported mid last year after touring most rural parts across the country, there is lack of accommodation for health personnel. The poor road infrastructure makes it difficult for patients to access vital services. Lack of accommodation for nurses, incentives, and pressure coming from the workload are other factors that contribute to the nurses’ misery in their daily field of duty, the report revealed. The nurse said the environment under which she is working is not encouraging at all. According to Muruko, the clinic is too small and the telephone line is always dysfunctional. The clinic that has six rooms is also used as Muruko’s home. “I occupy the kitchen and one room which I am using as my bedroom.” She shares the toilet with the patients. The other room has two beds, one is used for delivering mothers and the other for other patients. This situation according to Muruko is unhealthy especially for delivering mothers, as there is no privacy. The clinic previously had 10 blankets and 10 bed sheets. At the moment, only three bed sheets remain, as the Grootfontein hospital never returns the beddings when they are taken for laundry. Though such problems could be seen as general to nurses in the country, “I cannot take it anymore, I am tired”, stated the nurse who has been at the centre for four years. Considering that this is the rain season, Muruko indicated that malaria cases this year are most likely to increase in the area. However, the ministry has supplied more than enough medicines to the centre. “We have the new medicine falcistat, quinine sulphate, and coartem. With medicines I am happy, if only the place could be expanded maybe by two rooms.” Mosquito nets were recently distributed to 120 expectant mothers and homes with small children. Efforts to seek comment from the doctor for the area proved fruitless.
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