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The Unhealthy Health System

The expression ‘insignificant’ used by the Minister of health, Richard Kamwi, shocked certainly every Namibian. How can he consider the figure of ‘some hundred’ mothers over the last three years dying in the care of the hospitals under his control as insignificant?
You can compare this figure with what ever you like, Dr. Kamwi, this figure speaks for itself! Mothers and women face many serious dangers in our society. Many of us speak up about them but little is actually done to improve women’s lives. It is of no use to list these dangers here – our daily papers are full of them.
If someone falls ill, he has to come to a clinic or hospital in person – if alone or unable to pay for help and transport, he or she will die. No doctor or nurse will come to the ill person’s bedside to look at or treat the illness, as is the case in other countries. Don’t we know that in some cases, it is highly dangerous to move such a person and using a taxi could be fatal? Did Dr. Kamwi ever think about this scenario? Obviously, he did not because otherwise he, the ‘gifted orator’, would have addressed the problem.
Our health system is not healthy! That we all know. For the poor, it is even deadly. For the others it is also murderous, being too expensive. Our papers – as no other institution will do it – should tackle the issue. The media must establish the cost of the private system, the charges in the different categories of doctors and hospitals and medical schemes and list them. That would prepare the person in the street, the fathers of families and those growing old for the ‘worst’ case. That would enable us to plan. And would it not do most good if somehow, someone could honestly measure the performance of doctors, hospitals and other institutions within the health-care sector and expose the findings? We should also measure what the ministry was and has been doing over the years. Too much stays in the dark, too much is opaque in that all-important sector.
Our country is in dire need of transparency and reform! The population is getting poorer by the year; there is no middle-class in the true sense of the word; people are either poor or rich with little in between. Few can afford the high cost of private medical care and the situation worsens by the day.
It is not necessary to look into a crystal ball to see that the world entered an era of asceticism and social unrest – too expensive and inferior health care systems will significantly add to the frustration of the public everywhere, Namibia included. As long as the Namibian government and society can do it voluntarily, they should look into the problem; later it could be too late. Our health system is in need of a reform, it has to adapt to the prevailing local economic environment.
A widower
Windhoek

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