Worried surgeons warn about looming crisis

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-For the past two months the Katutura State Hospital and Windhoek Central Hospital have experienced unprecedented shortages of basics in the operation theatres, wards and casualty.

These range from sterile gowns, sterile drapes, nasogastric tubes, suction catheters, appropriate ET tubes, thoracotomy drains, wound dressing plasters and primapores, irrigation saline amongst others.

In a letter dated 28 November 2017, addressed to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Bernard Haufiku, five surgeons said the shortages have resulted in increasing morbidity (illness).
“Oshakati Intermediate Hospital is experiencing similar situation,” the surgeons told the minister.

The surgeons are Dr MKS Kamble, Dr B Mangundah, Dr M. Rohr, Dr F. Quayson and Dr E. Nande. The doctors did not share their letter with New Era.

“The shortages have resulted in increasing morbidity, repeated procedures for sepsis either intra-abdominal or anterior abdominal wall and cross infections,” the doctors said

The doctors have also observed an increase antibiotic use and resistance, while theater waiting lists are getting longer.

The increase in illness and death has demoralised the surgeons, they revealed in a telling two-paged letter.
“We are risking our professional credibility in providing care for our patients. At the same time we feel the credibility of our ministry that we uphold and defend despite public media and litigation threats is at stake,” said the surgeons.

They asked the minister to attend to the situation with emergency. “Your directors may inform you [about] a situation different from what we experience. Please trust our communique,” said the surgeons.
They also stressed that the current situation is negatively affecting the lives of patients. “Timely intervention will save the ministry huge sums of money by better outcomes, early discharges, fewer complications and shorter waiting lists,” they said.

They also said that under the present conditions, it is prudent to stop all elective work and embark on an emergency stocktaking and procurement of all consumables and only then surgical work may commence.
The theater will no longer be operational after this Friday, the doctors added, in order to allow for all corrections to be made.

“We are approaching the holiday season. And this situation should be considered as a critical emergency for it will deteriorate to life-threatening conditions,” said the doctors.

The situation of medical shortage has persisted at public health facility, and it is often linked to government’s cashflow problems, which affects the procurement of medical equipment and medicine.
Efforts to acquire Haufiku’s comment yesterday proved futile.

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