September 21, 2007

Budget hurting Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has no money to build new clinics and hospitals, buy new vehicles or replace ageing medical equipment, Health Minister Dr Richard Kamwi has told the National Assembly. According to him, his Ministry's annual budget was inadequate. "I have repeatedly stated that funding to fill vacant posts in the Ministry needs to be increased. Most of our medical equipment is going beyond its lifespan. "We have on a number of occasions requested greater allocations for transport and new vehicles. More than 80 per cent of our fleet of around 1.000 cars are older than five years and are of the road most of the time for reasons of wear and tear," Kamwi said. His Ministry has further indicated that it needs a much bigger allocation to its development budget in order to upgrade and renovate state hospitals, whose average age is around 40 years. "We also have more than a five-year backlog for the construction of new clinics, although plans were approved a long time ago." Inadequate funds and a cumbersome system at the Ministry of Works, for example the appointment of architects to do feasibility studies, added to the predicament, he said.
Kamwi admitted there were "huge backlogs" in the maintenance of health facilities, "but the responsibility for this function is not with my ministry," he said. The Ministry of Works and Transport is responsible for the maintenance of State buildings. Kamwi said the Health Ministry was hard at work with a new Permanent and Deputy Permanent Secretary, and progress would be made. A new Under Secretary had been appointed and five new regional directors would be appointed on October 1, he added. Undoubtedly, many aspects of the State health sector could be improved, he admitted. His Ministry intended to compile a strategic plan for the health sector and the primary healthcare strategy would be reviewed and recommendations implemented. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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