N$53m Rundu maternity ward closed

Seen as a saving grace for expecting and new mothers who had previously been forced to lie on floors in corridors and share mattresses, the ward closed its doors just four months after they opened.

08 April 2021 | Health

Kenya Kambowe


Just four months after health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula inaugurated a N$53.6 million-dollar maternity ward at Rundu State Hospital, the state-of-the-art facility has fallen into disuse.

The facility was expected to come in handy for expecting and new mothers who had previously been forced to lie on floors in corridors and share mattresses. Inaugurated on 20 November 2020, five days before Namibians went to the polls for the local and regional government elections, some saw the ward’s inauguration as an election ploy, with others suggesting at the time that the building was not ready for occupation yet.

When Namibian Sun visited the ward yesterday, its doors were locked, with no sign of life in the building.

The new maternity ward consists of two theatres, postnatal and antenatal wards, a neonatal unit, an isolation unit, mothers’ lodges, offices and consulting rooms.

Lack of medical oxygen

When contacted for comment yesterday, Shangula said the reason why the maternity ward is not operational is because of a lack of adequate medical oxygen in the unit.

“They did actually occupy the place but then after some time, they then experienced some problem with the medical oxygen. So, now they have to take the people back,” he said.

He said the initial plan of relying on oxygen cylinders is not working, and a contract has been awarded to a company which will have to install a medical oxygen bank on site.

Once installed, this means the oxygen will be generated at the ward.

Shangula refused to reveal how much the contract is worth, but Namibian Sun understands the company managing the oxygen bank will rake in millions.

Another delay

Furthermore, Shangula said while the company was supposed to start with the installation yesterday, they asked for additional time, citing that they can only get the parts in May.

At the inauguration last year, an excited health minister revealed that the project was scheduled to be completed by July 2015 at a cost of N$44.8 million. The project was initially budgeted at N$28 million.

Shangula further explained that the deadline was extended to April 2016, but the budgeted amount was insufficient to complete the outstanding work.

Finally completed last year, the bill on the project ran up to N$53.6 million.

However, with additional work required for the oxygen bank, even more money will have to be pumped into the project.

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