Erongo State Hospitals run out of food


Eileen van der Schyff

The food shortage that has hit the two coastal state hospitals this week now also circled out to the Usakos- and Omaruru state hospitals, the Acting Regional Health Director, Dr. Amir Shaker, confirmed this week. So dire is the situation that Dr. Shaker wrote a letter to the mayor of Walvis Bay this week, Alderman Immanuel Wilfried, to mobilise the coastal public and businesses to donate food on an urgent basis, as patients were going hungry.

Mayor Wilfried reacted immediately and some relief started to flow in within hours.
In a telephonic interview with Dr. Shaker hours before going to press yesterday, namib times learnt that the problem is now not only restricted to the two coastal state hospitals, but it is in fact a regional problem.
“This is a problem affecting all state hospitals in the Erongo Region”, confirmed Dr. Shaker. The problems started as a result of a stand-off between Tyetu Trading Enterprises which is the contracted food supplier to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
“We don’t have a backup plan”, added Dr. Shaker. “We get food on a daily basis. If there is money, the catering company supplies and if we don’t have money, they can not supply food to the hospitals ”, Dr. Shaker told the namib times yesterday morning.
The problem grew to such an extent in recent days that even hospital staff started to supply food from their own expenses. That only offered a very brief relieve.
The mayor’s offices of both Walvis Bay and Swakopmund were showered with food items from businesses and individuals since mayor Wilfried posted his request for assistance.
When the namib times asked Dr. Shaker about who keeps control of the donated food, he replied: “The mayor of Walvis Bay handed over the food to me on Monday and Tuesday. The mayoral offices keep control of all donated foods received.”
Since namib times broke the news on Tuesday over the deteriorating situation with regard to food availability to state hospitals, the public also reacted angrily. The public’s perception is that the Namibian Government must take responsibility to pay the catering suppliers on time. Secondly, hospital staff are accused of stealing food, only providing some of the food to patients and that the time has come that public funds (tax revenues) be spent more effectively and transparently.
Harrowing accounts of nurses walking with plastic bags of dry bread dishing it out to patients and only with a small cup of water to wash it down, were provided to namib times this week. See more of these remarks and accounts on page 8.

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