A female patient who was supposed to be rushed to Rundu Intermediate Hospital from Shambyu Health Centre for emergency medical attention died recently, because the driver on call-out was not available.
The health facility could not transport the patient to Rundu, despite having a government vehicle on site, as apparently the driver on duty was not available. According to officials privy to insider information at the health centre the trip could have saved the life of the patient.
Shambyu Health Centre resides under the Catholic Health Services and also partly under the directorate of health in the Ministry of Health and Social Services. It is located some 30 km east of Rundu along the Kavango River.
The details of the patient’s condition at the time cannot be disclosed at this stage.
New Era was informed the Shambyu Health Centre made an arrangement with the health ministry in Rundu after their vehicles broke down and were given a Toyota Land cruiser to transport patients in need of urgent emergency treatment, as well as those with complicated ailments that could not be attended to at the rural health centre.
However, the Land Cruiser has reportedly been due for service and thus cannot be used for anything other than emergencies. It is currently parked at Shambyu Health Centre, where it is gathering dust.
“When the patient was brought in they tried calling Rundu State Hospital to send an ambulance to pick up the patient, but that did not materialise,” said a concerned official that requested not to be named, lest he be disciplined.
“They gave us a GRN Land Cruiser, which we used to improvise for an ambulance, but now it’s due for service. Since the 1st of May we don’t use it, because it is supposed to be sent for service. Our administrator, together with the driver, were told in Rundu at the hospital where they got the vehicle to come park the car until it can be taken in for service,” said one official at Shambyu Health Centre, who also requested anonimity.
According to a concerned staff source at Shambyu, who saw that the patient was in a critical condition, they did not use the government vehicle parked at their facility, which was given to them to use in such cases, but opted instead to seek ambulance assistance from Rundu, 30 km away, which did not come for the patient. As a result the patient died.
New Era tried to get clarity on the issue from the matron of the health centre, but to no avail. “The matron is not around and I cannot give you the information you need, as I am not authorised, but the regional director has been briefed. You can speak to her,” said one nurse at Shambyu.
New Era also spoke to Timeya Ngwira, the director of health for Kavango East Region, regarding the issue and she confirmed that she was informed about the case, but referred this reporter to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services – whom she said was informed of the case – for answers.