Opuwo clinic sends learners away because of school's debt

20 Feb 2014 18:40pm
OPUWO, 20 FEB (NAMPA) – The Opuwo State Clinic on Tuesday refused to treat two learners from the Putuavanga Secondary school because of an outstanding debt their school has with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) here.
The learners produced documents at the clinic which they had received from their school to allow them to be exempted from paying clinic fees.
The clinic is on the same premises as the Opuwo District Hospital.
The mother of one of the learners, Hendrina Shoombe, told Nampa on Thursday that the cashier at the clinic informed her that learners from Putuavanga will not be attended to due to an unsettled debt for earlier services rendered.
“I was left speechless at the counter. We had to go back, and only returned to the clinic on Wednesday with my money for my daughter to be treated,” said Shoombe.
She reported the issue to the management of the Opuwo District Hospital, and told them it was shocking that sick children were chased away.
“I am at least here in Opuwo, what will happen to the learners who do not have parents in Opuwo? It is just too bad!” said Shoombe.
The acting Principal of the Putuavanga Secondary School, Richard Tjazapi confirmed the incident to Nampa on Wednesday morning.
“The arrangement with the Opuwo Hospital is that our learners from the hostel are treated for free, and we settle the total amount (debt) at the end of the term,” said Tjazapi.
He noted that their debt at the hospital was N.dollars 900 since September last year up to this week, and that amount was settled on Wednesday this week.
“This was very unnecessary for a Government institution to send learners who are sick away due to an unsettled account of N.dollars 900,” noted Tjazapi.
He said the learners were supposed to be treated first and then the debt issue could have been dealt with on another platform.
The acting Director of Health for Kunene, Joice Mashamba confirmed the incident but could not provide and further information, saying an investigation was underway.
She did, however, say their core business is not to collect revenue, but to safe lives through treating and healing people.
“So, money or outstanding debts should not have been a factor to prevent learners from being treated at all,” noted Mashamba.