Deadline expires for Oshana to submit sites for referral hospital

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Last Friday was the deadline for the Oshana regional leadership to put forward two sites in either of the two towns of Ongwediva and Ondangwa for the Health Ministry’s architects to assess the suitability of these for a referral hospital.

According Health Minister Dr Bernhard Haufiku, the architects would have to check if the sites meet the specific infrastructure requirements for a referral hospital that would have between 900 and 1,000 beds.

The referral hospital, which at this stage is being considered as a public-private partnership project, is envisaged to render additional services in terms of medical research, have a private medical ward for private patients, and be able to cater for medical tourism by patients from the neighbouring countries.

However, the core function of the referral hospital would be to radically reduce the number of patients that – almost on a weekly basis – are transported to Windhoek referral hospitals from the northern regions.

“Overwhelmingly, and we have the data, more than 60 percent of the referrals come from the north,” Haufiku had said in an earlier interview with New Era.

He noted that if the impasse regarding the site continues, the Health Ministry would have no choice but to make alternative arrangements, without consultations with the region.

“If we see that the situation is not moving we can go to Plan B, [where we] even build the hospital by ourselves, without involving town councils. We can see who is willing to donate the plot, or where we can buy the land at a nominal fee. The referral hospital is important,” he said.

The health minister has also pointed out that the negotiations with potential private investors are at a crucial stage, but the financial details have been yet concluded with the partner.

“There is nothing guaranteed at this stage and the issue of squabbling would just make things worse. Investors are fickle people. They can up and go,” he warned.

At present, all 14 regions of the country refer patients to Windhoek’s only hospital designed and equipped to provide intensive medical care.

“The reason we want to build a referral hospital is to lessen the burden [on Windhoek hospitals], is so that we do not have buses every day bringing in people for referrals,” he said.

A referral hospital deals with complicated health issues, including specialised surgery, high care and all medical complications and care that cannot be attended to by physicians at other hospitals, including district hospitals in the regions.

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