Windhoek-The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, says doing more with less “simply does not work” and that the ministry needs money in order to carry out its intended projects.
Speaking to medical doctors and specialists, including a specialist nurse, on Saturday, Dr Haufiku said the ministry last year received a budget of N$6.2 billion.
“This year we have N$6.5 billion but we came into this year with debt or unpaid invoices of close to a billion. You can as well say that we have N$5.5 billion,” said Haufiku, who spoke to doctors who were deployed to the Erongo and Kavango regions for medical outreach.
The minister said while the ministry has unsettled invoices, it is faced with a situation where to place staff. “We need more doctors, dentists and pharmacists. Many of them just finished their studies,” said Haufiku.
Additionally, more than 600 community health care workers have not been placed, but they would play a crucial role at the community level.
Further, the minister revealed that there are plans to put up a paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Windhoek Central Hospital and that there is a need to revamp the entire trauma ward to make it level two.
For the paediatric ICU and the trauma unit, the plan is to have a public-private partnership (PPP).
“PPP is giving us problems because a lot of private companies don’t want to enter agreements on a PPP because their experience is that it is cumbersome and the tender process is dirty. There are people on the Tender Board who favour their camaradas [comrades] and tenders end up being awarded to very lousy incompetent companies,” said the minister. Despite this, there are hopes that by next year, the ministry would kick-start one or two projects.
“So, for now, we are still with outreach,” said Haufiku, who shared this to address concerns such as S&T during outreach and the declining number of doctors participating in the medical outreach programme.
The programme started in 2015 and is the brainchild of the minister, who stressed at the meeting “we are still at a point where we need to go out”.
Explaining the objective of the outreach programme Haufiku said “this is a voluntary outreach” and the aim is to keep patients in the regions in order to avoid overload of patients in referral hospitals in Windhoek.
“We are still at a point where we need to go out and I think this year and possibly next year then we can start scaling down,” said Haufiku.
He told the medical personnel, mainly doctors, he does not see a situation where there will be less referral of patients to Windhoek from the regions because the district hospitals are not fully equipped both in terms of equipment and human resources.
The state hospitals at Keetmanshoop, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Katima Mulilo, Engela and Rundu would be added to the list of accredited hospitals for training medical students and medical interns.
“It’s a process,” said Haufiku, explaining that they would need to be accredited and then have some of the best equipment and human resources.
“We foresee this happening, if we are lucky, in the second half of 2018 but that would depend on the availability of money,” said the health minister.