Health professionals at the Katutura hospital are concerned that patients and some staff members who publicly smoke at the hospital are causing a health hazard, especially for patients seeking treatment at the hospital.
The Tobacco Products Control Act No. 1 of 2010 was gazetted in April 2014 and was enforced the same year, effectively banning people from smoking in public places. However, New Era found that people continue to smoke in public places unpunished.
Concerned health workers have taken it upon themselves to discourage patients who smoke in front of the hospital entrance, as well as close to the entrance to the casualty ward, from doing so.
“There is a baby clinic not far from the main entrance so smoke goes there and the children start coughing and sneezing,” said a concerned nurse.
People with different health problems come to the hospital to be attended to, said the nurse, but adding that some people end up more sick because of the smoke they constantly inhale.
“While patients are being treated they inhale smoke at the hospital. It should not be that way, it should be smoke-free because this is a health institution,” said the concerned health worker. It is also alleged that security personnel and porters at the hospital are notorious for selling cigarettes.
“People should be sensitized against smoking at the hospital premises because it’s a public place,” said the concerned nurse.
Passive smoking can trigger asthma attacks in patients with asthmatic problems, while it causes chest problems and cancer, said the nurse. According to law, municipalities should appoint inspectors to monitor and enforce compliance with the law. The law imposes a fine of N$200 000 for advertising tobacco products.
No manufacturer, importer or distributor of tobacco products may organise activities to promote a tobacco product or make a financial contribution to organised activities promoting smoking.
No person may sell any tobacco product to a person under the age of 18 years.
Contacted for comment, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, said his office has not received complaints about smoking at Katutura hospital.
“My position is the same as that of the Ministry of Health and Social Services – no smoking in public places is allowed,” said the minister.