WINDHOEK – The medical superintendent of the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, Dr Fady Ashmawy says the health sector has improved greatly within a short period that the health minister has been in charge.
Responding to criticism in an article titled ‘Is the Namibian Health Sector Safe under Dr Bernard Haufiku,’ Ashmawy said the minister has upgraded the entire medical public service to a competitive level by working in collaboration with the private sector.
A critic wrote, “We cannot really blame the minister, since he is just a medical doctor who was picked from his private consulting room” and urged government to make urgent interventions to save the public health sector that the author claimed “was about to collapse.”
“We know the budget is enough, the ministry just needs to prioritise and put some unnecessary projects on halt. There is no point in constructing new hospitals when there are no psychotic medications at Rundu District Hospital. What is the point of constructing new clinics if there is an enrolled nurse running Iilyateko Clinic in Otsandi Constituency alone?” read a portion of the anonymous article.
The author also stated that nurses are always fatigued and battling burnout as they are working under pressure, attending to a huge number of patients because the number of nurses does not meet the demands of the patients awaiting treatment.
“To have a minister of health from the private sector is allowed and have regulatory rules. The minister is a winner because he solves the problems in a fast practical way, not a routine bureaucratic minister,” said Ashmawy responding to a comment that the health minister was ‘picked’ from the private sector to head the health ministry.
Ashmawy also said the quality improvement is a continuing process. The medical superintendent further said that he has witnessed the health minister working very hard all year round.
“The honourable minister is working on both macro and micromanagement, I witnessed more than a situation which proved with no suspicion that he is an excellent diver in the details of the problems, to find the root cause for every problem and solve it radically in a logic scientific manner,” said Ashmawy.
The health minister, according to Ashmawy inspects hospitals unannounced, often at odd hours such as 04h00 in the morning.
“He came in multiple spot checks, from the basement to the plumbing and water systems to the emergency department to the acute care to the theaters to the roof to check the water supply and the building safety in a nearly suicidal mission,” said the medical superintendent.
In addition to his inspections and other official duties, the health minister also makes time for his outreach programmes, which involves traveling to other regions with health professionals including surgeons, anaesthetists and general practitioners to treat patients. In the past many of these patients flocked to the few referral hospitals in the country, including Windhoek Central hospital, Ashmawy pointed out.
He added that in the past, there were endless long waiting queues in hospitals and there were daily complaints of no stock of medicine and equipment but this too has improved, said the medical superintendent.
“Where are the daily sour meals in the unclean crowded malfunctioning facilities? I believe that a lot has been accomplished,” said Ashmawy.
Ashmawy said when he joined the Namibian health sector in 2011, the long queues of patients fighting with each other was a constant scene not only in the casualty but also in the out-patients department, the dental department, the radiology department and the pharmacy.
The surgery lists were booked for months up until the following year. Many procedures were postponed or not done, he added.
“There were common defaming complaints on a daily basis by clients and newspaper articles. There were many cases suffering from waiting long hours which may extend to the next day without being attended, patients sleeping overnight in the reception just to have a number in the dental clinic and may not be able to take the services in the same day, patients came repeatedly to take their monthly refills but no stock was a frequent answer,” he stated.