By Anna Ingwafa
The attitude and behaviour of some health workers is worrisome because they do not display courtesy, patience, empathy, human dignity and tolerance that are the cornerstones of their public duty.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr Albert Kawana conveyed this message over the weekend when he officially opened the Onayena Health Centre in Oshikoto Region.
Kawana instructed health workers to provide patients with relevant and accurate information during the diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitation and counselling stages.
According to Kawana, many a time the negative attitude of health professionals has come into the spotlight. It does not cost a cent for a health professional to display a positive attitude towards those who have the right to be served.
“Therefore, patients should form a cornerstone of your professional career.
Your professionalism is judged by the manner in which you interact with patients. I therefore urge the ministry to address this area of national concern. We should not allow a few rotten apples to tarnish the good name of this noble profession,” said Kawana.
He pointed out that shortly after independence, the Swapo Party Government recognized the need to address access of the people to all public health facilities.
The aim was to ensure that all communities have equitable access to health and social welfare services. Since then, progress has been made in correcting the most glaring inequities in the health system, said Kawana who opened the centre on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Moreover, great strides have been taken over the past 18 years to improve national health and the quality of services rendered.
He stressed that Government is aware that inequity still exists in the country particularly with regard to access, distribution and ownership of health care facilities.
He urged the Ministry of Health and Social Services to fulfill the Government’s objective of reducing the existing inequalities. Government is committed to improve efficiency as well as reduce costs and the number of citizens who do not have access to affordable, equitable and quality health care service.
“It is important to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of our health care sector so that it can meaningfully contribute to the realization of Namibia’s Vision 2030. In the delivery of health care service to our citizens, our goal must always be geared towards giving all our people the opportunity to lead normal, fulfilling and healthy lives.
“This calls for the attainment of the highest possible level of environment sanitation and personal hygiene, as well as the achievement of the highest standard of healthy behaviour and practices which promote and protect community and individual health,” he said.
Kawana stressed that despite ongoing efforts by the Government to broaden coverage on medical cover, only 20 percent of the population enjoys medical aid cover, meaning that a large majority of the people still depend on medical services provided by Government at state facilities.
He noted that it is important that intensive efforts are made to reach out to a large constituency of employed Namibians and encourage them to take up medical cover. He also urged the health sector to come up with affordable products that would benefit the people.
According to Kawana, the HIV/Aids pandemic remains a huge challenge. “It is our collective responsibility as a nation to strengthen prevention measures and to ensure that all Namibians, particularly the youth, contribute to the fight against this disease by choosing a responsible lifestyle. I also believe that the high percentage of expectant women who are tested indicate that our country is slowly but surely shattering the stigma associated with HIV/Aids infection.”
The prevention of mother-to-child transmission has been rolled out to 60 percent of public health facilities. The number of people who are legible to receive state-funded anti-retroviral treatment has increased and now stands at more than 41 000, said Dr Kawana.
The Government is training health workers and community counsellors and this is ongoing and will make the programme a success.
He urged infected people to sign up and receive anti-retroviral treatment.
The inauguration of the health centre at Onayena will ensure that citizens especially those who live in rural areas have access to health facilities.
He urged the local councillor to encourage the community to utilize the health centre to the maximum while the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare should ensure that the health centre is regularly visited by a medical practitioner as part of the ministry’s outreach programme.
Speaking at the same occasion Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi said that plans are under way to build a nurses home, laundry and a kitchen at Onayena Health Centre.