News and Information

March 23, 2011
By Simon Liseli

Today 2011-03-23

Ministry Of Health and Social Services Workers in Katima off loading Dirty Linen

IT NEVER rains but pours for the Ministry of Health and Social Services at Katima Mulilo State Hospital just when some residents of Katima Mulilo have raised an eyebrow to the failure of the boiler that supplies power to the machines used to wash clothing and blankets of the patients.

Caprivi Vision revealed that in 2010 the linen for the hospital was sent to Rundu State Hospital for several times due to the shortages of the power that supply both the washing machines and the cookers at the Kitchen of the State hospital .Recently , this paper was informed that in January 2011 hospital linen was taken to Rundu to be washed for a week and thereafter when the boiler was repaired, dirty linen was brought back to Katima Mulilo and only a few of them were cleaned at Rundu and mixed with the dirty ones when it was returned back.

Some sources have revealed to Caprivi Vision that the boiler at the Katima Mulilo State hospital used to be out of order as it is worn out and very old because it was installed in the olden days before Namibia’s independence.When dirt clothes, sheets, blankets etc that are used by patients are taken to Rundu for washing, Patients are always hungry in the wards once the boiler is not working as their big cookers are not used due to power failure and rather they used to cook into small ports that cannot carter all patients in wards and they are given small food that cannot satisfy them.

The other woman who spoke in condition of anonymity said it is not good to take dirty clothing from Katima Mulilo to Rundu for washing, as they are diseases carried in them.“Its too dangerous, diseases are being spread all over when a truck is driving carrying dirty linen and some of those clothing have been used by people who have died already, others contain vomit from patients, others are full of blood just to mention a few… but they are a lot of diseases being spread in the air that comes from those clothes while the truck is running, the Ministry should look on this matter with immediate effect” said a hospital worker.

Another hospital worker who used to wash the linen expressed concern on how they were called back from Rundu, “the recent incident that happened in January was not good at all, some dirt clothes were taken to Rundu and were brought back being dirt and only a few of them were clean but the rest came back the way they went, even some workers who work there are likely to get diseases and for how long will this take?” Asked the concerned worker.Lack of Ambulances, qualified medical doctors and other scientific diagnosis cases are still a problem at Katima Mulilo State Hospital and most of the patients are referred to Rundu and Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek for treatment and care.

“People of Caprivi depend on our hospital ( Katima Mulilo State Hospital) for their health but now the hospital is spreading diseases to people through those dirty clothing that are taken to Rundu and things are getting worse on a daily basis at our hospital and people are complaining about the shortage of nurses but nothing hasbeen improved or changed while other hospitals in the country are providing good services to their people and are improving,” stressed a Katima Resident.Concerns at Katima mortuary are still alarming with bad smell (stinking) when relatives are taking corpses of their beloved ones for burial and some of its parts ( refrigerators ) are out of order .Caprivi Vision contacted the Control Officer at the hospital, Mr. John Sikwanga on allegation of the failure of the boiler and he confirmed to this publication that its true the boiler used to be out of order ( stuck) always because of some of its parts which are very old.

“ In December last year 2010 certain parts of the boiler got damaged and it stopped operating as we agreed with our neighbour to be taking the dirty clothing when our boiler Stucks we took them to Rundu and it was during the festive season , the supplier of those parts that got damaged were in holiday is how the Ministry of Works who used to fix it told us and its in their hands for maintenance but its for the hospital and with minor problems they fix it up once it occurs,” explained Mr. Sikwanga.Mr.Sikwangafurther said , the hospital is currently under renovations and according to their plans, the old boiler will be removed after renovations and they will start using electricity.“These machines are old and according to our plans we will remove these machines after some renovations and we will start using electricity, the wards of the patients will be arranged accordingly after some renovations and the pharmacy will be extended as they are some concerns already from patients that they used to spend a lot of time in queues without being served, things will change,” he lamented.Asked on allegations that clothes and blankets that are taken to Rundu when the boiler is out of order are spreading diseases, “I am not a medical officer so I don’t know whether they can spread diseases but they are put in closed plastic bags and we used to send our people to go and wash them and they are sent back when they are cleaned for use,” Mr. Sikwanga lashed out.

It is alleged that the boiler for Katima Mulilo State Hospital was installed long time ago and some parts are now old, “I don’t even know when was it installed, its old every time it needs some repairs that’s why the Ministry of Works is tasked to do that but now its working since those new parts were fixed and they are other parts which are old that still need to be changed,” he concluded.This reporter also contacted the office of the Acting Regional Health Director Mr. Eustace Puteho to hear his views on the issue and through his secretary the reporter was referred to the Principal Medical Officer (PMO) Dr. Patrick Bwalya who requested questions from this reporter in writing which he did and in his feedback ,“On behalf of the Management I wish to advice that the requested feedback is not possible because your request is not understood clearly concerning the boiler and the mortuary,” quoted from his feedback, When the same reporter called him again, Dr. Bwalya confirmed receiving the questions, he referred the reporter to Mr. Sikwanga the Control Officer, and he further encouraged for more investigative journalism.


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