Kavango Catholic hospitals in danger of closure

11 November 2019 | Health

Management of five Catholic Health Services (CHS) hospitals in the two Kavango regions say they may have to close shop if no further monetary allocation is made for the hospitals to continue operating.

The ministry of health confirmed it is dipping into its resources to see if it can throw a lifeline to the ailing Catholic hospitals, which need N$9.5 million in running costs.

The CHS management also said the infrastructure and sewerage systems at some of these hospitals have broken down.

According to a letter, the CHS management had only N$43.8 million in the bank by the end of September, which was only enough for paying salaries.

“In light of this dire situation characterised by unavailability of additional funding in this financial year, we need urgent advice to whether to stop operations completely and pay salaries only.

“We want to further highlight the adverse impact this situation will have on the running of hospital services, some of which will come to a standstill completely, thereby directly affecting the lives our people,” the letter read.

The letter also pointed out that the current payment system must be revised to avoid overdrafts, which are very costly but unavoidable because of the delay in payments from the government.

The executive director in the health ministry, Ben Nangombe, said he was aware of the situation and an agreement had been reached with the CHS management.

“We are looking at ways internally to see how we can assist them,” said Nangombe.

In 2016 Namibian Sun reported that a group of Roman Catholic Church clergy had accused government of failing to pay some subsidies for the use of church hospitals and clinics.

The group, led by Archbishop Liborius Nashenda, visited President Hage President and said the government must respect an agreement signed between the two parties in 2008.

Some health facilities owned by the church are privately managed, such as the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek. Others are under Roman Catholic Mission management and are used to create revenue for the church, while others have been made available to the state. These include the Nyangana and Andara Catholic hospitals in the Kavango regions and St Mary's Roman Catholic Hospital in Rehoboth.

The Catholic Health Service operates 16 health facilities in Namibia - four district hospitals, five health centres and seven clinics. All of them should be subsidised by the ministry of health and social services.

This makes the agency, which operates as a non-governmental organisation, the second largest public health service provider in the country after the government. The organisation now employs about 800 healthcare workers, 10% of whom are under the HIV and Aids programme.

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JEMIMA BEUKES

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