Windhoek-A modern academic hospital is envisioned for northern Namibia to attend to the majority of medical cases that are currently referred to Windhoek from the country’s most populous area.
Speaking at State House on Friday Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Bernard Haufiku explained that about 60 percent of patients being treated in Windhoek are usually referred from the north.
He said the planned hospital would ease the burden faced by Katutura and Windhoek central hospitals that attend to patients referred from various parts of the country, including the northern regions.
As part of the many projects mooted by the Health Ministry, specialists in the ministry felt that the north would be ideal to build the planned referral hospital, considering that many patients originate from there.
The academic referral hospital would, amongst others, have an oncology centre, considering that cancer is on the rise, the minister noted.
The envisioned 900 to 1,200-bed capacity hospital would also have a maternal block and cardiac unit for children, Haufiku told President Hage Geingob during the meeting at State House.
“It will be built using the latest technology that no other hospital in the country has,” the health minister said. The proposal, however, met with opposition from Ondangwa Town Council, who had proposed that a district hospital be built in the town.
“The construction of this project (Ondangwa district hospital) is to be shelved in favour of a bigger project, the referral hospital in the region, which is a welcome development to our region.
“What is worrying us is the fact that this new referral hospital may not be constructed in Ondangwa, [which is] very heavy news for us to take, especially [as…] the hopes and aspirations of our people have been raised over the years since 2012 (when the idea for a district hospital in Ondangwa was first mooted), said Ondangwa Mayor Paavo Amwele.
Amwele and his delegation from Ondangwa Town Council, who had sought audience with the president regarding the proposed district hospital in Ondangwa, said the idea of constructing a referral hospital in the north was born from the need for a district hospital in Ondangwa.
“It is our submission that if it is to be replaced with a bigger referral hospital, it should be constructed in Ondangwa at the site that was intended for the district hospital, or at a new site in Ondangwa. Ondangwa has many open areas that can be considered to accommodate a district hospital or a referral hospital, or even both projects,” Amwele further noted.
On the unravelling tug-of-war on the locality of the planned hospital, Haufiku said: “We’re losing sight of the fact that we’re trying to help the region and the people, not just Ondangwa. If there is politics between Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati, that’s entirely out of my area [of jurisdiction] as a health minister.”
“All I want is to reduce the statistics of people who come and die here, because they can’t get cancer treatment in Oshakati, Ongwediva, or wherever, and they cannot afford it,” he added.
Haufiku said Ondangwa is less than 30 km from Ongwediva and less than 40 km from Oshakati. The location of the planned hospital is within a 60 km radius of the various communities within the area that it is intended to serve, he said.
“There is absolutely nothing geographically that would disadvantage Ondangwa by having a hospital halfway to Ongwediva, in Ongwediva, or somewhere else… nothing,” Haufiku stressed.
He said the Oshakati hospital is not only for Oshakati, as it is a referral hospital, where patients will be referred to from various towns and villages in northern Namibia. The Health Ministry is awaiting feedback from scientists on the site earmarked who are assessing whether it is the best location for such a referral hospital.
The hospital would be constructed in collaboration with private partners, as part of a public-private partnership agreement. At this point, “The ministry does not have the funds to put up a 900 to 1200-bed hospital,” Haufiku explained.