Good News for Heart Patients


By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Plans are at an advanced stage to set up a cardiac unit at the Windhoek Central Hospital. With the establishment of the unit, there will be no need for Namibia to send heart patients elsewhere for surgery. The Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi yesterday said the realisation of a cardiac unit in Namibia is looking likely. “The infrastructure is already in place and now we are tapping the expertise from Kenya and we are in the pipeline to also recruit cardiologists from that country,” he said while welcoming the newly recruited Kenyan nurses in Windhoek. So far, over 60 Namibian patients have been successfully operated on at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya. Reports say that for most Namibians, having surgery in neighbouring South Africa’s main hospitals is a costly exercise. For one patient to undergo surgery in South Africa it costs N$120 000. Yet, for the same amount, four patients could undergo heart surgery in Kenya. Hence Namibia saw it fit to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya on September 04, 2002. At the same time, steps were taken to assist the Health Ministry in setting up a cardiac unit at the Windhoek Central Hospital. In an interview, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Kalumbi Shangula said it was a cumbersome process for many local patients to be placed on the long waiting list for heart surgery in South Africa. With qualified cardiologists and heart surgeons, Kenya was seen as a much cheaper and more timeous alternative. “Patients even used to die before sufficient funds were raised for the operation in South Africa,” said Dr Shangula. However, this situation will hopefully soon become a thing of the past once the cardiac unit is established. Dr Shangula said that tenders have been advertised for outstanding equipment. Soon approvals for contracts will be given to the suppliers. Meanwhile, about 12 Namibian nurses have received training in Kenya, while a number of surgeons are also expected to arrive from that country to operate on heart patients here. Some doctors are currently undergoing specialisation studies in cardiac surgery at tertiary institutions in Kenya. Construction is already complete for the cardiac unit at the Windhoek Central Hospital and all that remains is sourcing additional specialised equipment to be put in place for the unit to become fully functional. Namibia continues to benefit from Kenya, with a number of students attending tertiary institutions in that country. In September this year, 15 places would be provided for medical studies; 10 in the field of pharmacy and 15 students are expected to study clinical engineering in Kenya.