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Bureaucracy does not save lives

Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi showing the policy documents to the public.(Photograph by Melba Chipepo)

Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi showing the policy documents to the public.(Photograph by Melba Chipepo)

Following an analysis by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in conjunction with the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) on Emergency Medical Rescue Services from June 2007 to March 2008, several policy changes were announced this week.
The study revealed a number of short falls including the lack of policy guidelines for ambulance services, a critical shortage of ambulances and life support equipment, an inadequate number of trained nurses in trauma and emergency care and ambulance drivers without skills in the treatment of medical emergencies.
These results prompted the Ministry of Health and Social Services to come up with a policy that would address these issues. Speaking at the launch of the Policy on Emergency Medical Rescue Services, its Strategic Plan and the National Guidelines for Medical Safety Surveillance, at the Windhoek Central Hospital chapel on Tuesday this week Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura said that the ministry found it fit to address the emergency situation in the country.
The purpose of the documents is to bring about change that will ensure the quality of emergency care services and practices. The policy and its strategic plan address among others accessibility to emergency care services within the government’s Health Care Framework.
The National Guidelines for Medicines Safety Surveillance is drafted to direct health workers and consumers on how to monitor and avoid medication errors and implement related strategies to improve patient safety.
“Medicines are meant to be of great use to us but sometimes they do more harm than good and systems need to be put in place to assess adverse reactions and intolerable side effects. Particularly in a context where we are using relatively new medicines to treat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis on a large scale”, said Magda Robalo, the World Health Organisation’s Country Representative.
Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi said that the aims and objectives of the policy documents are to ensure the provision of a rapid, well-coordinated and properly managed emergency medical response delivery in the country, to facilitate effective and efficient responses to all emergency cases, to define norms and standards for service delivery at all levels of government structures as well as to ensure capacity building of human resources for the ministry’s emergency medical response and rescue services at all levels.
Chief Executive Officer of MVA, Jerry Muadinohamba urged the ministry to revise their policies on  emergency care as humans, not policies save lives. ”Lets remain flexible and re-look at some of these policies, people can not be saved by bureaucracy” he said.

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