Katutura Intermediate, the worst hospital - by Evaristo Shikalepo Ihepavali

On October 23, 2010, I took my niece to Katutura clinic because she was sick as of late Friday night. At 07h00, we were already queuing up as the Clinic staff were preparing to open the clinic. One would be surprised as soon as the clinic opened its doors there were two nurses standing in front of the entrance and told the crowd that only those who did not get treatment the previous day would be allowed to see the doctor and other nursing staff. The rest should go to Katutura Intermediate Hospital Casualty division which is open 24 hours. The remaining patients from the previous day were called in. They were 35 mothers carrying children on their shoulders. They went in as their health passports were taken the previous day and kept at the clinic. The rest Katutura Hospital ?toe gaan?, that is what we were told to do. At 08h15, I drove to Katutura Hospital with four mothers and their highly fevered children who could fit in my car. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the big Hospital and the queue there was better ? 27 people in the queue was not so bad.

To our surprise, a nurse came out of the consulting room and took all health passports inside. The health passports were taken like the first person on top and last one under. Nine o?clock we were called into the nurses? consulting room and the child?s temperature measured and 38 degree Celcius was the result, and according to the nurse it was too high and the child was given panado tablets and referred us to see the doctor. We were told to wait outside again, the time was 09h30 already. The number of patients by that time increased dramatically, at 11h00 another man and me decided to go in and ask the nurse what was going on. The nurse was so kind and responded that there was only one doctor on duty and the whole of the morning the doctor is just busy with emergency cases brought about by knife stabbing, car accidents, as it was Saturday morning so we had to wait, and if we didn?t believe her we could go there and see for ourselves.


Now the question comes in this form: I know the hospitals administration is run by the superintendent who by career is a doctor. Does Katutura Hospital have a superintendent? If there is one, does he/she know about the situation mentioned in this article? How can someone who is sick already have again to spend eight hours at a hospital without treatment or any help? I asked the nurse why there was only one doctor on duty. She answered that we must ask our minister and his staff because they don?t want to pay doctors over time at the weekend.

Minister Kamwi, please visit Katutura hospital in your spare time one weekend and experience what I have seen for the whole day of October 23, 2010. I know you have visited many hospitals countrywide unnoticed, why don?t you do it for the sake of our people who are sick? Maybe from there we the nation will know who is not doing his job here. Why does only one doctor have to be on duty at such a big hospital?

Who is failing the nation? This ministry received an amount of over 2 billion dollars in the budget and still patients are suffering under this ministry. I know the minister cannot be blamed in this saga, because someone is paid by the government to do the work at this entity but they fail all of us here.

The hospital is dirty, toilets are never cleaned maybe for weeks if not months. Why not outsource cleaning to private companies? Because cleaners are not willing to clean toilets and other places in hospitals. Good example, toilets in Katutura hospital are dirty and are not fit for humans. There is linen on the floor and I do not know why they put it there, and it is rotten because of the dirty water running on the toilet floor. Cockroaches are running all over the toilets ? why does the hospital, a place we know where medicines are stored, not kill these insects and clean the toilets.

That is why I question again who is in charge of Katutura Hospital?

Evaristo Shakapelo Ihepavali is a community activist based in Soweto, Katutura, Windhoek.