//Karas health facilities doing more with less

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop – Hospitals, health centres and clinics in the //Karas Region are doing their best, despite the lack of resources to provide quality health services to residents.

This is according to the region’s acting chief medical officer, Dr Refanus Kooper, who says the region is doing well in terms of providing the necessary health services to the people, despite challenges.

He pointedto staff shortages as the main challenge facing the region, which he said hinders efforts to provide quality health services to those in need, due to a lack of nurses and doctors.

“Staff shortages really hinder the provision of quality health services in Karasburg. For example, we only have one doctor for up to four years now, instead of the required three for the hospital there,” he stated.

Kooper further said the national budget cuts have worsened the situation, as some activities cannot be carried out as planned due to a lack of funds, adding that the cuts have dealt a huge blow, especially to the health outreach programme.

He stressed the importance of the outreach programme, saying it is a good initiative aimed at reaching all corners of Namibia and providing health services to those unable to come to the hospitals themselves.

He was, however, quick to point out that despite the cuts, the region is doing its best to work with what is available and to reach people in remote areas and thus keeping the programme alive.

“If people can’t reach a health facility then you need to see how you can reach these people. So, despite the cuts we urge our staff to be passionate about their work and not only do it for the money,” he said.

He further said, overall the region is doing well in terms of service provision, highlighting that local residents are aware of and are visiting health facilities more often than before.

He also spoke about the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in the region, indicating that the region’s HIV prevalence rate (about 14%) is lower than some regions, adding that the residents’ response in seeking HIV-related services is encouraging, noting that the majority are female.

“There is a good response and people are willing to come, but we have a problem with males, as they are reluctant to visit health facilities,” he said.

Dr Andries Petrus Vermeulen, the only medical doctor in Karasburg district, also spoke of the difficult circumstances he works under, especially the long distances he has to travel to attend to patients.

Stationed at Karasburg, he has to cater for surrounding areas, such as Noordoewer and Aussenkehr, about 200 kilometres away.

Vermeulen said travelling is time-consuming: “I’m the only doctor there, so I have to travel long distances to other places, which is time consuming.”

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