THE overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients that are in need of critical care as a result of the current third wave of new infections has put Namibia’s health sector in an extremely precarious situation.
A critical lack of oxygen has caused a situation where health care workers working in smaller less sophisticated hospitals in rural areas are no longer able to refer severely sick patients to the bigger hospitals in the various health districts.
At the same time, the referral hospitals have also been prevented from sending critically sick patients to two main state hospitals in Windhoek.
In order to conserve the ever-decreasing oxygen supply directives have been sent out to the regions to cancel all non-emergency surgical procedures.
In the same vein, all patients with less serious ailments will be deferred to alternative or emergency health facilities for medical attention.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Esther Utjiua Muinjangue said Namibia’s only hope currently lies with the vaccines and people getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
She said that the available vaccines protect people from becoming sick to such an extent that they will need hospitalization and even critical care.
“COVID-19 is real and it is taking too many lives. The advent of the third wave of infections and the resultant high number of positive cases that are in need of hospitalization has caused the halt in hospital referrals,” she said.
Dr. Muinjangue confirmed that the Windhoek Central and Katutura Hospitals have suspended referrals of all cases from regions with immediate effect because of the immense pressure caused by the large number of patients.
“The suspension of referrals is not only meant to relieve this pressure but it intensifies preventative measures such as the phenomenon of region to region spreading of infection,” she said.
Dr. Muinjangue advised the public to get vaccinated, to mask up at all times in public, to practice hand hygiene by washing and sanitizing hands, to avoid crowded places, and to observe social distancing as far as possible.
While the deputy health minister gave this advice, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula said in an address to parliament on the current COVID-19 situation in Namibia that he is confident that the Namibian health sector is capable of handling the increased number of severely sick patients.
“I assure Namibians that the public health system is ready to receive anyone who needs space and its services at any time,” Dr. Angula said in his statement to Parliament.