The Ministry of Health and Social Services says a new contractor has been appointed to take over renovation works at the dilapidated Okahao District hospital, which saw nurses and doctors resigning en masse this year.
About 11 nurses and one doctor resigned recently, citing the lack of accommodation facilities for staff and patients, as well as crumbling infrastructure at the Okahao District hospital in the Omusati region, as the main reasons. Andrew Ndishishi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services said yesterday, “It is regrettable that nurses and doctors feel resigning is the only option available.” He explained that the ministry had a dispute with the contractor, who failed to adhere to the specifications stipulated in the building plans.
“The contractor was not able to do the work the way we had anticipated. We have since taken measures to remove the contractor of the project and appointed a new contractor to complete the project,” he noted.
Ndishishi could, however, not give the exact timeframe for the completion of the project, nor the date when the new contractor would assume duties at the abandoned site.
Ndishishi said the process of disqualifying a contractor and appointing a new one takes time, as the terminated service provider had to be given a fair hearing.
“It takes time following the whole process of going to Tender Board to cancel and once you cancel, then you must go through the process of appointing a new one. It has not been easy. We are also not very happy [about the situation], but we have a budget to renovate the hospital,” he said.
He said the budgetary allocation for the renovation project is about N$27 million.
New Era yesterday reported that Dr Mary Namundjebo, a member of the Hospital Advisory Committee, said the nurses and a doctor who resigned from their posts cited deplorable working conditions, which include an unhygienic work environment, lack of proper accommodation, and derelict infrastructure at the hospital, as some of the reasons that led to their resignation.
Dr Namundjebo said their departures left the hospital with a critical staff shortage. She further said the lack of patient consulting rooms forces two doctors to use one small room at a time – with only one interpreter available to them – when attending to patients; a situation that compromises the confidentiality of patients.
It is also a matter of concern that due to the lack of basic infrastructure at the Okahao District hospital, patients have to be transported about 17 kilometres to the nearby Indira Gandhi Clinic to access facilities such as X-ray machines.