WINDHOEK: President Hifikepunye Pohamba has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the activities, affairs, management and operations of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS).
The Head of State announced at a media briefing at State House on Monday that he has appointed former Supreme Court judge Simpson Mtambanengwe as the chairperson of this particular Commission of Inquiry.
Other members of the Commission are Dr Edward Maganu, a former Permanent Secretary in Botswana’s Ministry of Health; local gynaecologist Dr John Kheiseb; and Celine Uusiku, who is the Director of Human Resources, Management and General Services at the MoHSS.
Uusiku was appointed as the secretary of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.
Announcing the appointment, Pohamba expressed some concern about the many disturbing reports recently carried by the print and electronic media on the poor status of Namibia’s public health sector.
He said these media reports have painted a negative picture regarding the status of the country´s public health sector, especially in the field of maternal health.
The president then announced that he had decided to take action with a view to improve the provision of public health services to the people.
“In terms of the Commissions’ Act of 1947, the president is empowered to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of investigating a matter of public concern,” he stated.
Pohamba said he has been working hard to find men and women of good repute who would assist him in investigating the state of the public health sector, and who would report back to him with recommendations.
He further explained that the Namibian Government has engaged international organisations with expertise in the public health sector to gain assistance in order to improve on the state of health service delivery in the country.
“Namibia is a big country with a very small population. We cannot afford to lose human life, especially in situations where such deaths can be prevented,” the Head of State said.
The president noted that as part of its Terms of Reference, the Commission will investigate and report to him without derogating upon the quality of patient care in Namibia´s public health facilities.
The Commission will also report on the quality of training for doctors and nurses, the development of the curriculum, training material, tutoring, the duration of their studies as well as the adequacy and relevance of medical personnel’s internship programmes.
“The quality of public health facilities, the status of available medical equipment and the need for upgrading are also part of the terms of reference,” the president stated.
The Commission will also focus on the availability of medicine in public hospitals, health centres and clinics, as well as human resources’ adequacy.
They will also look at attraction, motivation and retention factors for qualified medical personnel, such as the availability of accommodation facilities, career promotions and allowances for personnel.
Reports will also be done on health professionals’ conduct, ethics, professionalism as well as the attitudes of both the professionals and patients.
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry will further concentrate on the need for waiting shelters for expectant mothers near hospitals and/or health centres, especially in the rural areas, as well as the adequacy of ambulance services and transport for the referral of patients.
“The Commission will also look into the adequacy of the proposed restructuring of the Ministry of Health and Social Services,” Pohamba added.
He noted that Namibia has been successful in the treatment of malaria and tuberculosis, as well as the provision of care and life-prolonging medicine for people with HIV, but he insisted that he wants to see that the country is now taking a lead in reducing maternal deaths in the public health sector as well.
The Presidential Commission of inquiry into the affairs of the MoHSS is expected to submit a full report to the president within the next four months.
“I look forward to the day when those who will be entrusted with the implementation of the Commissions´ recommendations will hit the ground running,” Pohamba said.
Presidential Affairs’ Minister Dr Albert Kawana, the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi, the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Petrina Haingura, MoHSS Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi and Secretary to Cabinet Frans Kapofi were also present to witness the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry.