'White elephant' comes to life

06 October 2020 | Health

Ester Kamati

OTJIWARONGO



After being non-operational for two years, Otjiwarongo's Ombili health post, as it was called when it was first established six years ago, had become a white elephant, with community members saying it had been abandoned.

Previously, only treatment for tuberculosis was provided at the facility, but it has now been upgraded to provide all services available at other clinics in the town.

At a sensitisation session, the director of health in Otjozondjupa, Gebhardo Timotheus, mentioned that the clinic is “not certified yet to give or to provide antiretroviral treatment”.

From last week, two registered nurses started providing antenatal care at the facility.



Various attempts to reopen

According to Timotheus there had been various unsuccessful attempts to reopen the clinic.

“We started between January and February with the process of making sure there is running water, electricity and other amenities a clinic requires, but then Covid-19 broke out. It became a challenge because most of our staff concentrated more on the pandemic.”

Timotheus added they continued with the upgrades after some regions were placed under lockdown, installing furniture, mobilising nurses as well as stocking up on medicine. The clinic, which currently has seven staff members, started providing services again on 21 September. An administrative officer is also on duty.



Long walk

Constituency councillor Maralyn Mbakera said there are close to 5 000 people living in the informal settlement, who previously had to walk between eight and 10 kilometres to the nearest health facility, Orwetoweni clinic.

This caused overcrowding, as one clinic had to serve people from all the informal settlements.

She said since the Ombili clinic reopened, over 180 people were assisted between 21 and 29 September. Contraceptives, of which there have been a shortage in the country, are available, and services such as the dressing of wounds, follow-ups, HIV counselling and testing are also available.

Immunisation will be done proportionately, two days a week.

The clinic is open between Monday and Friday from 08:00 to 17:00, with Mbakera adding that discussions are ongoing with the health director to extend operating hours.

The elderly and mothers with babies are especially happy about the reopening of the clinic.

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