WINDHOEK – The first ever spinal cord ward in the country opened its doors to the public at the Windhoek Central hospital on Friday.
This was made possible by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA), a Swedish organisation called Spinalis Foundation and the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The unit in ward seven of the Windhoek Central hospital is expected to make a great difference in the lives of people suffering from spinal cord injuries, because it would focus on getting people back to productive, dignified lives within the shortest time possible. A medical team from Sweden will work with five medical staff of the Ministry of Health and Social Services as part of a skills transfer exercise, according to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi.
According to Kamwi spinal cord injuries are among the most common types of injuries sustained following trauma emanating from motor vehicle crashes amongst others. Namibia averages over 3000 road traffic crashes per year resulting in more than 5000 injuries annually, including spinal cord injuries, Kamwi highlighted. Given the insufficient capacity in the public health sector, most spinal cord injury cases are often referred to private facilities which are costly and affordable only for a select few, Kamwi pointed out. “The opening of this ward is both critical and timely as cases of spinal cord injuries are increasing thereby exerting pressure on the health system,” he said.
“The benefits to be derived from having this ward here at the Windhoek Central hospital are immense. But central to that is the fact that the ministry will now be able to deliver effective rehabilitation and life enhancement treatment for patients who suffered spinal cord injuries at a lower cost to patients,” he said. The Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Kilus Nguvauva, stressed that the benefits of the spinal cord injury ward to the Namibian nation cannot be overemphasised at the current rate of crashes on the country’s roads. “The challenge is now to ensure that it is used effectively to save the lives of our people,” Nguvauva said. He pledged that the Ministry of Works and Transport would ensure that the infrastructure is kept in good working condition.
By Alvine Kapitako