Mothers, newborns sleep on floor at maternity ward

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John Muyamba

Rundu-The Rundu Intermediate Hospital’s maternity ward still accommodates women in labour and those who have given birth, together with their babies, on the floor of the facility. This is due to a lack of space as construction of the maternity ward has not yet been completed due to delays.

The ward, which has a bed capacity of 30, is too small to accommodate all the expectant mothers seeking care and those who have given birth.

In 2014 there was fresh hope among residents of Kavango when construction of the new maternity building started, after the N$28 million tender was awarded to a contractor. It has been under construction since then but there is no indication when it will be completed.

The building was planned to be handed over by the end of April last year yet even the finished work is not up to standard.

New Era was informed by some government officials that the building is “substandard and therefore cannot be certified fit for use”.

The director of health in Kavango East, Timea Ngwira, attributed the delay to lack of funds.
“We are waiting for funds to be released in order to complete the project. This project is managed by the head office in Windhoek through capital projects, so I don’t really have full information on what is happening there, I can’t really speak on the progress on site,” Ngwira said upon inquiry.

“We want this project to be completed as we really need it – looking at the situation at our hospital,” she said in reference to the many expectant mothers and those who already delivered having to sleep in the corridors.

At one stage the contractor was criticised by the then minister of health Dr Richard Kamwi for being slow and delaying the project, but the contractor seemed to have gotten away with excuses. Construction of the maternity ward had started in May 2014.

Over the years the Rundu hospital has been notorious for its overcrowded maternity ward and a new ward was expected to ease the overcrowded old maternity ward, an issue the public have complained cynically about over the years. When visiting the maternity ward you will see mothers with their newborn babies sleeping on mattresses on the floor, which people say should not be happening 27 years after independence.

The ward was supposed to have its own administration block, a 200-bed capacity unit, an isolation unit, a premature birth unit, two theatres, six delivery rooms and a full antenatal care unit.

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