Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Bernard Haufiku says the health ministry has plans to make Rundu Intermediate Hospital a regional hospital that can cater for both Kavango West and Kavango East regions.
“We want to create what we call ‘hubs’ and we are looking at Rundu Hospital as a hub… we want to change [it] to a regional hospital,” Haufiku said at the hospital during a medical outreach visit to Kavango East last week, where close to one hundred patients were expected to be operated on.
“Together with other doctors we will keep on doing medical outreach until the ministry has trained enough doctors and dispatched them to be permanently situated in the districts and regions. Since May/June last year we’ve been going to the regions and working in district hospitals. The district collects patients that need surgery and we operate on them there,” he said.
Rundu Intermediate Hospital currently gets referrals from Zambezi Region, Kavango West, as well as patients from the south of Angola, where hospitals are not available.
Through its medical outreach programme the ministry has been equipping various hospitals across the country so that various health centres can be used to conduct operations in their regions, instead of sending patients to Windhoek every time.
“Until we’ve reached a point where we are satisfied that service delivery at the district and regional hospitals is up to what we expect it to be, we will continue to do the outreach,” said Haufiku.
Haufiku, who is leading a team of doctors on a medical outreach programme in Kavango East, further said he is content with the progress made since the campaign started in May last year.
“We’ve so far operated on over 600 patients in this campaign, for things that would otherwise have been referred to Windhoek. I noticed that there has been a slight decrease in the number of referrals to Windhoek,” Haufiku said.
“I practically demonstrated that by going to Khorixas Hospital alone in May last year I was able to operate on 30 patients and people really started buying in [to the idea] afterwards; both the private and state doctors,” Haufiku said.
He said the most important change is that more doctors from the private sector are now coming on board to assist patients.
Furthermore, the health minister said fewer patients are being referred to Windhoek for operations. The majority of patients that go to Windhoek now go for cancer treatment and major operations, for cardiac consultations and other complicated procedures, tests and investigations that cannot be done in the regions.
“But ordinary and normal small cases, minor procedures, even gaenecological procedures, are now available at many of the hospitals. For instance, Khorixas Hospital is now doing those leucotomies (lobotomies). The same with Omaruru, Lüderitz, they are now starting to do these things.”
The ministry has installed equipment in several health centres to enable staff to do these procedures, he added. He said the health ministry is discussing with private doctors in the regions, who have private consulting rooms, to undertake either anaesthetic sessions at State hospitals, or to perform at the district level procedures they have experienced in.
“There are also medical cases that are normally sent to Windhoek, otherwise we see them at the district level. The ministry is trying to cut down the number of referrals to Windhoek and Oshakati and to do the procedures in the regions,” he said.