NAMIBIA: Namibia ready for new Covid-19 cases says Ben Nangombe

Ben Nangombe

HEALTH executive director Ben Nangombe says the country’s public health system is capable of handling any new Covid-19 cases.

Namibia has one main referral hospital, three intermediate hospitals, 31 district hospitals, 43 health centres and 279 clinics.

The country has not recorded any new cases in the past three weeks, however, there are eight recoveries and the remaining cases are asymptomatic.

Speaking at the Covid-19 information centre in Windhoek on Thursday, Nangombe said Namibia still has better health infrastructure compared to other African countries, despite some challenges.

 

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He said the Windhoek Central Hospital casualty unit is being used as an ICU facility for infectious diseases; a 12-bed facility has also been constructed near the hospital which is waiting for gas installations but can accommodate mild cases.

The TB ward at Katutura Hospital will equally be converted into a 52-bed isolation facility with 11 ICU beds. The ministry has awarded contracts to build isolation facilities at Opuwo, Oshakati and Rundu.

“Generally, I think Namibia is ready, we have a public health system that is ready to accommodate what is coming if it is going to come at all. We can comfortably say the nation can rest assured that the facilities put in place will be able to respond adequately to what is coming,” he added.

Another panellist Thomas Mbeeli, acting director of health technology and infrastructure management, on the preparedness of the ministry of health for Covid-19, said reservations for isolation beds for 31 district hospitals and the three referral hospitals which are not based in Windhoek, have been made.

He noted that they are also looking into converting a malaria camp in the Handala district into an isolation facility’s.

“We have gone out to make sure we can respond to all our district hospitals. We are not only referring to the far northern belt but we are also doing it at Mariental in consultation with the sports minister to use the youth centre there,” he said.

They want to upgrade the Keetmanshoop Hospital to have additional isolation facilities for the //Kharas region.

Mbeeli said they have made sure they have enough transport to refer patients although the biggest strategy is to minimise movement between facilities.

According to the cost plan for Covid-19, there are about 2 605 health professionals in the government and as from Thursday 1 053 had been recruited, the executive director said.

Nangombe said they go through their database to recruit health professionals, however, he urged those who are qualified to submit their qualifications to the ministry by calling their toll free number.

He noted that it’s not only the state that is responding to the virus as the private health sector has also come on board.

He added that the challenges faced in the health sector are still there and are being attended to, noting that they are not only concerned with Covid-19.

“Our work doesn’t start and end with Covid-19. We are still engaging in providing other public health services,” he said

TRAINING AND SUPPORT

Nangombe said community health workers are being trained before they are sent out to inform the public and conduct screening. Regarding quarantine facilities, he said those being held in those places are provided with psycho-social support.

For the past three weeks, no new cases have been recorded, which Nangombe believes is due to the measures the government has put in place.

Nangombe said they prioritised water and electricity at all public health facilities to make sure they operate in a safe manner. He added that the ministry has increased testing in the country by also implementing mass testing.

“We have completed the concept note on upscaling and expanding testing. We have identified the target groups that are going to be tested to get that critical data that we need,” he said.

He said they are looking into testing people in the fishing and mining sector, as well as health workers.

Nangombe said if health workers are to get sick, they will be treated in the same manner as any other person. However, if there is someone that needs ‘sophisticated’ healthcare, they will be directed elsewhere.

He also added that health workers are provided accommodation away from their families to protect themselves and their families, and they also have personal protective equipment issued to them.

“We need to emphasise the rational use of personal protective equipment … we have ongoing training for them to know how to use this equipment,” he said.

 

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