By Petronella Sibeene
Most Namibians have better access to healthcare services, water supply and sanitation than most of their African counterparts, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.
“Namibians currently have much improved healthcare access and are in a better position in terms of water supply and sanitation than most countries on the continent,” WHO Namibia Representative Dr Magda Robalo said this week.
Speaking at the launch of the WHO’s 60th anniversary, Dr Robalo said that Namibia has in its few years of independence eliminated measles, leprosy, neo-natal tetanus and, nearly, polio.
“WHO’s presence in Namibia came from the birth of this nation and in our first years we focused on working together to bring vaccinations to the children of Namibia, increase human resources in the health sector and protect the people from communicable diseases,” she said.
Dr Robalo though expressed worry over the impact that HIV/AIDS and other emerging diseases such as avian influenza and climate change might have on the achievements. She says such ongoing and future obstacles threaten progress in Namibia and if not properly addressed, they might reverse progress made.
She reaffirmed WHO’s commitment in assisting Government to address health challenges.
Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi expressed gratitude to WHO for its efforts in empowering the Namibian health sector by supporting human resource development efforts.
He confirmed WHO’s involvement in helping Namibia combat the biggest health challenges including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and the inequality of healthcare access and services.
The minister announced that in commemorating WHO’s 60th anniversary, a series of activities are planned for the rest of the year.
To be commemorated under the theme “Our Health, Our Future”, the anniversary campaigns will include a variety of radio quizzes addressing major health issues in the country. Information on relevant topical health issues in Namibia will also be given.
Other activities will be the sharing of information by United Nations and government officials using the broadcast media. This is aimed at sparking live debate in the country.
The ministry will next month host a photography exhibition, which will showcase different faces of health in the country.
“The exhibition will provide a pictorial insight into how health issues affect different regions, populations and sectors. It will show the human impacts that result from health issues we often hear about in the media but can be hard to visualize,” the minister emphasized.
The minister added that secondary schools would compete in a musical competition. Schools will be expected to compose and perform songs which promote key health messages.
“The aim of the activity is to get youth to think analytically about health issues while broadcasting important messages in a positive way,” Dr Kamwi said.
After the grand finale where some public members will win prizes, WHO plans to host an interactive workshop on maternal health.
A recent report launched by the ministry reveals that under-five mortality rates have increased.
The report says the number of women who die during pregnancy, delivery or shortly after giving birth has doubled.
Latest data indicates the maternal mortality rate increased from 227 per 100??????’??