More than 130 patients with spinal cord injuries have been successfully rehabilitated into society following the opening of the spinal cord unit at the Windhoek central hospital three years ago.
The unit, which has an eight-bed capacity, can only admit a handful of patients due to the shortage of physiotherapists at the hospital.
The shortage of physiotherapists is not only felt at the Windhoek hospital but countrywide, a physiotherapist at the hospital’s spinal cord unit, Ndapandula Londo, told New Era.
According to Londo, the shortage of physiotherapists at state facilities has placed a heavy burden on existing professionals.
She fears that this might compromise the quality of their work and service to patients and hence the proper recovery and rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries and other illnesses that require their services.
“There are less than 15 physiotherapists at state health facilities compared to more than 100 in the private sector,” said Londo. Most of the physiotherapists at state health facilities are expatriates, she added.
“We are really overloaded,” she said. “There are three physiotherapists at Katutura intermediate hospital,” she added. And, one physiotherapist at the hospital attends to 234 patients in a month, Londo said.
She said the central hospital has three physiotherapists and each one attends to at least 225 patients per month.
Physiotherapy treatment focuses on quality, she added. “If you are overloaded, it hinders the quality of service provided. It’s really a burden because we get to attend to both inpatients and outpatients. We can’t handle it, it’s really a burden,” said Londo.
Most regional health facilities do not have physiotherapists and therefore it is difficult to decentralise services to the regions as long as the status quo prevails.
“In the absence of these professionals, patients suffer from preventable primary and secondary complications,” stressed Londo, who called on more Namibians to embrace physiotherapy and occupational therapy studies.