Erongo state hospitals have run out of food, private sector comes to the rescue
The staggering government hospital food crisis in the Erongo Region is receiving the urgent attention and intervention from an emergency committee which met for the second time this week Thursday. After the meeting, the Office of the Erongo Governor announced that an emergency food bank has been established as an interim measure until a permanent solution can be introduced.
At the same time, a large Walvis Bay fishing company, Erongo Marine Enterprises, announced that it will support the food bank with an immediate N$300,000 for procurement and that it will pay for the services of a managing agent to source and supply food to the four affected hospitals. Erongo Marine has also undertaken to have the cold storage facilities at two of the hospitals fixed on their account.
The food crisis at four state hospitals in the Erongo Region came to light early in August when reports first surfaced that the food supply has been interrupted, allegedly after the Ministry of Health and Social Services has fallen in arrears with payments to the tender holder, Tyetu Trading Enterprises.
The week the Erongo Region Governor, Hon Cleophas Mutjavikua stated that on average about 200 patients require three meals per day at the four state hospitals in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Omaruru and Usakos.
The Governor indicated that the emergency food bank is a regional initiative and will remain in force until such time as the ministry has resolved the issue. The emergency committee comprises representatives from the Office of the Governor, the offices of the mayors of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, the Erongo regional health department and the private sector.
At this week’s meeting, the committee recommended that future tenders be awarded to catering companies on a district level with at least two or three companies appointed in the region instead of only one.
Also high on their agenda was the responsible management of the donations to the food bank to ensure accountability to all donors. Dr Amir Shaker, the acting Erongo Regional Health Director, assured the meeting that the hospitals will enforce further controls for transparency and accountability.
The committee decided that a central point of distribution be set up at the Walvis Bay State Hospital where stock control can be managed in a structured way and from where distribution will be made to the other hospitals. A health inspector of the Municipality of Walvis Bay was co-opted to the committee and will ensure that all health and safety regulations for food storage and distribution are adhered to.
Governor Mutjavikua appealed to the public and the private sector to support the emergency food bank with donations.
Caption: Interventions to alleviate the severity of the food crisis at four state hospitals in the Erongo Region were discussed at the second stakeholders meeting in the Office of the Governor, this Wednesday 12 September.