Expectant mothers who previously lived in deplorable conditions outside the Outapi District Hospital breathed a sigh of relief when the health ministry stepped in to provide two temporary shelters.
For many at the camp, the last days of pregnancy should be blissful – however that has not been the case as they were exposed to harsh weather while camping in single tents in the open.
The majority of these women hail from rural areas and seek medical services when they are almost due for delivery.
Before the provision of the temporary shelter, the women walked a distance to collect water from hospital, and washed themselves in the open – and with no ablution facilities they had to use the veld or bush to relieve themselves.
However, their misery came to an end last week when the Ministry of Health and Social Services provided them with two temporary tents and constructed a cooking area using corrugated iron sheets.
In addition to the tents, the ministry also made bathing facilities available and created an access gate for easy accessibility to the bathrooms and for water collection at the hospital.
All the expectant mothers who are between eight and nine months pregnant are given access cards.
“We are really happy. We have been shielded from the rain and wind. If it were not for these temporary shelters – our tents would have blown away last week Thursday when strong winds accompanied by rain hit Outapi,” said 29-year-old Ndapewa Shatilwe from Eendombe village in Omusati Region.
Meanwhile, the women have dug trenches next to the two tents to prevent a further flow of water into their shelters.
A young mother, 21-year-old Kandaha Immanuel from Omahila village appealed to the custodians of the shelter to implement rules.
“If there are no rules put in place soon, the tents will turn into an unhygienic place,” said Immanuel.
The acting health director in Omusati Region Esra Kavela said the temporary shelter was specifically made for the expectant mothers and not any other member of society.
Kavela said he could not really say how many expectant mothers are currently in the tents because the number changes daily.
The Omusati regional governor Erginus Endjala said plans to construct the N$5 million shelter for expectant mothers are still underway.
In the meantime, the governor assured that the Social Security Commission will commence with construction once the architectural design is in place.
Not too far away the Tukwathela project, a centre constructed to house expectant mothers, stands idle with no occupants.
The centre, which was established to accommodate at least 100 mothers, is now heavily vandalised.
Kavela said the centre could not be occupied because there was no sewerage system in place.