OPUWO: The Opuwo community have to wait for up to a week just to be attended to by a doctor due to the shortage of medical doctors at the Opuwo District State Hospital.
As a result, people who have medical aid cards and those who have money resort to using the services of private medical doctors for consultations, while those without money or medical aid cards have to suffer in pain for days until they are attended to.
Only one medical doctor is currently deployed at this hospital. Nampa interviewed several people at the Opuwo District State Hospital on Wednesday to hear how they felt about their woes.
One of the patients who suffered through waiting for the doctor for over two days was Nguliputjo Tjipopyeni, who waited from Monday up to Wednesday to be seen by the doctor.
“This is just too much. What is so difficult for the government to get doctors to Opuwo? We are coming to hospital early in the morning, and sit there the whole day without being attended to, only to be told before 17h00 that the doctor will possibly see us the next day,” he explained.
Tjipopyeni came to collect his high blood pressure medicine, but had to endure this for more than two days as he could not be given any medication without having been seen by the doctor.
“I am really feeling my head is so heavy, and I feel confused and cannot see properly as I skipped many days without taking the high blood pressure tablets,” he added.
Another family which suffered was that of Meriam Ngombe, whose son had his arm broken on Friday evening.
When they visited the hospital, they were given painkillers and asked to see the doctor on Monday.
“When we brought the boy back on Monday, the nurses informed us that we should come back on Friday as the doctor was overloaded, and it would be impossible to see the boy,” she noted.
Ngombe had to opt for a private doctor to get the boy referred to a radiographer for an X-ray to be taken on Tuesday.
The arm of the eight-year-old boy, Setekia Ngombe, was badly swollen by then. Approached for comment, the Director of Health for the Kunene Region, Thomas Shapumba confirmed to this reporter that there was only one doctor at the Opuwo District State Hospital for the last two weeks.
He said there are always shortages of medical doctors at the hospital, but this time it was worse.
“We usually struggle with three medical doctors here, while we are supposed to have at least five medical doctors on the structure,” added Shapumba.
Two of the medical doctors out of the usual three, were not around. “One is on leave, and the other one was attending a court case in Khorixas, leaving only one doctor to attend to all the patients at the hospital,” he explained.
This single doctor is responsible for more than 200 patients who are admitted in the male, female and children’s wards. He is also the only one who has to take care of daily patients who have to be seen by a doctor. To heap more pressure on him, he has to be on call at night for emergencies.
Shapumba said there was a need for more medical doctors at the hospital, even 20 if that was possible, but it was tough to get doctors in Namibia.
“The appointment of medical doctors to the Opuwo District State Hospital was in the pipeline, and soon more doctors to fill the structure would be appointed,” he stated.
The situation was beyond their control, as there are not even enough doctors in the country for them to ‘borrow’ from other State hospitals to come and assist in Opuwo, the Health Director said. All the medical doctors at the Opuwo District State Hospital are foreigners.