Both at fault

Health ministry and caterer to take collective responsibility  for the state hospital food shortages

Floris Steenkamp

The food crisis that persists at the four state hospitals in the Erongo Region can only be avoided in the future if tenders for food supplies are given to businesses with a true capacity to accommodate the full business cycle and also for the Ministry of Health and Social Services to shift its paradigm from an endless cycle of crisis management to a culture of detecting problems in time and root out the cause of the problem permanently.
This transpired at a press conference at the Swakopmund state hospital last Friday where fishing company Erongo Marine Enterprises (EME) donated N$300 000 worth of food items to the Ministry of Health to bridge the food crises and a further N$50 000 to fix refrigeration units at the Walvis Bay and Swakopmund state hospitals that are not functioning.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Bernhard Haufiku, attended the press conference. In his key-note address he admitted those responsible for tender allocations must step up their act to ensure tenders are allocated to catering service providers with a true a true capacity to render the service. “I would [also] urge those responsible for tender allocations to always ensure that an entity given a responsibility such as delivering food to patients truly has the capacity and are able to render such services in a sustained manner”, said Dr. Haufiku. Adding the supplier was non-compliant and are responsible for the food shortage.
On the health ministry he leads, Dr. Haufiku urged officials to end the culture of perpetual crisis management. “We seem to have got stuck in a habit of managing one crisis after another and patching and extinguishing fires one after another without addressing the root cause of our problems in the Ministry”, Dr. Haufiku said.
When it was his turn at the rostrum, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources also hinted the catering supplier was not complying with laid-down procurement rules.
“We all know the challenges that Government often face in various sectors in dealing with suppliers for essential commodities, especially when such suppliers do not want to comply with laid-down procurement procedures”, the Minister is quoted.
In a media statement after the handing over ceremony, and where the two Ministers gave their view as to how and why the food crises evolved, the Erongo Regional Council too laid the blame on the catering company stating financial difficulty as the root cause.
“The food shortage dilemma, which came to light at the beginning, of the month is as a result of financial difficulties experienced by the appointed catering company tasked with supplying meals to all the regional state hospitals”.

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