Lack of ambulances in Kavango regions

People living in remote rural areas have to hitch-hike for hours to get medical attention due to a shortage of ambulance services and bad roads.

21 July 2021 | Health

KENYA KAMBOWE

OMEGA

Patients from inland communities in the Kavango East and West regions struggle to reach the nearest health facility in the absence of ambulances.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, this means that family members and others who offer to help transport ill people to hospital are exposed to the virus.

A recent trip to Omega settlement, a San community about 270 kilometres east of Rundu, showed just how hard it is for remote, poverty-stricken people to access healthcare services.

It took hours for a 93-year-old woman from #Onhei village in the Zambezi Region to get to the Omega clinic, about 70 kilometres from her home.

The frail pensioner was accompanied by a relative and had to be carried into the clinic.

According to the relative, they had left #Onhei village at 08:00 and reached the clinic at 15:00.

The relative said the woman had been ill for three weeks and could not afford transport to seek medical help.

The nearest district hospital, at Andara in the Mukwe Constituncy, is about 90 kilometres from Omega.

Some residents at Omega said it was extremely unlikely that an ambulance would be sent to their area. Instead, people who fall ill ask help from good Samaritans to drive them to Andara.

Challenges

When contacted for comment, Mukwe constituency councillor Damian Maghambayi confirmed that there are challenges with ambulance services in the constituency.

Maghambayi said the constituency office vehicle was sometimes used to transport patients or collect corpses and take them to the mortuary.

“These are some of the challenges we experience and we really want the health ministry to understand this. We need ambulances.”

Namibian Sun has been reporting on the lack of healthcare services in the Kavango regions for years.

For example, residents of Mururani village in Kavango West rely on a mobile clinic that visits them twice a week, while an ambulance that is supposed to assist the community is stationed 130 kilometres away in Rundu.

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