OPUWO: Fifteen people living with disabilities were the first to be assisted by the Mobile Regional Orthopaedic Technical Services’ (MROTS) outreach team, which is in the Kunene Region on a week-long visit.
The 15 people assisted at Opuwo on Monday formed part of 71 individuals on a waiting list at the Opuwo District Hospital, who have been waiting to be transported to the Oshakati State Hospital for check-ups, or for the replacement of artificial limbs.
One of the first people to be assisted by the team dispatched by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) was the headman of the Otjiu village in the Opuwo Constituency, Leonard Ruhumba, who said he was very happy with the services that he received.
He, however, called on Government and/or the Ministry to decentralise these services to the regions to make it easier for those in need of help to receive support timeously.
Ruhumba told Nampa that the artificial limb he currently uses is more than five-years-old, and he had to travel to Oshakati at his own expense to get it earlier.
“We need this department of Orthopaedic Technical Services in Opuwo,” he stressed.
Some of the people set to receive help here this week have been on the waiting list for more than two years, as the list of those awaiting assistance at Oshakati is just as long.
This is the first time in three years that the team visits the Kunene Region as the outreach visits were halted due to a lack of finances.
The team is responsible for the Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena and Kunene Regions, but has only been operating in the Oshana Region due to financial constraints.
None of the three district hospitals in the Kunene Region have orthopaedics or rehabilitation officers or therapists, a problem which has existed for years now.
This has resulted in situations where people have to wait at least a year to be seen for measurements for artificial limbs, shoes or for other services offered by the department at the Oshakati State Hospital.
Orthopaedic courses are not offered at local higher learning institutions, and the handful of people who are trained in the discipline work mainly in private hospitals.
Government in the past depended on Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) for the provision of orthopaedic services and therapists, but that arrangement was phased out years ago.
The MROTS team will visit each of the five regions three times per year. The orthopaedics’ outreach visit in the Kunene Region ends Friday.
Next week, the team will be visiting Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region.