Ambulance boat to boost health service in Zambezi

Chief medical officer for Zambezi Region, Dr Peter Bwalya (left) with the acting senior medical officer, Dr Bithotho Amisi, next to the ambulance boat.

KATIMA MULILO – The Zambezi Region has received an  ambulance boat, the first of its kind in Namibia.

The custom-made boat, replete with beds for patients and other health essentials, cost government over N$1 million to modify. The boat can transport patients in emergency situations. 

The region received the ambulance boat from the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, last week Friday. 

In addition, two more hoover craft worth more than N$2 million were handed to the region to help with general transport in the flood-prone areas of Zambezi, especially in shallow waters.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Kamwi said delays in providing ambulance services to patients in flood-prone areas would be a thing of the past, maintaining that the health ministry would continue to improve its infrastructure to be able to offer better services. “Delays in getting ambulance services from the district hospital in cases of emergencies shall be a thing of the past. It [the craft] will help carry our patients for referral to Katima even in shallow waters. The ministry has worked very hard to ensure that the Schuckmannsburg PHC clinic was upgraded in 2012 and now Impalila Island clinic’s upgrading is almost 100 percent complete,” said Kamwi.

According to Kamwi, other health outreach services could also be boosted by the procurement of the boats. “It is hoped that apart from patient referral most of the health programmes of immunisation, malaria and health promotion on HIV and AIDS issues shall be well executed,” said Kamwi.

However, he cautioned against the abuse of the craft saying such behaviour would be tantamount to misconduct. “Corrupt use of these boats in various forms such as reckless driving, use for private transport and all other forms of abuse are strongly discouraged as the practice constitutes misconduct,” warned Kamwi.

Kamwi was also not happy with the handling of vehicles provided for the health directorate in the region, appealing to management to look into the matter diligently. “The Zambezi Region receives the most help in terms of transport but I am not impressed with the way we handle our vehicles here. When I arrived I invited the governor and we found our vehicles in a very bad state,” bemoaned the health minister.

The provision of the craft is a welcome shot in the arm for the communities in the eastern floodplains of Zambezi, where access to health services is severely limited particularly because of flooding that occurs annually and cuts off the communities from mainstream services. 

The only clinics in the flood-prone areas are found at places such as Schuckmannsburg, Impalila, Mbalasinte and Itomba. What further exacerbates matters is that the areas, estimated to hold well over 10 000 people, are sparsely populated. The distance to clinics can be as far as 10 kilometres in some areas. 

By George Sanzila


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