NA to debate medical clinics at tertiary institutions

15 Sep 2015 11:10am
WINDHOEK, 14 SEP (NAMPA) – The National Assembly (NA) will on Wednesday debate a motion on expanding medical clinics to tertiary institutions countrywide in efforts to reduce unwanted pregnancies, baby dumping and provide general health-related services to the youth.
DTA Acting Secretary General and Member of Parliament (MP), Elma Dienda tabled the motion during the resumption of the NA last week.
In an interview with Nampa on Monday, Dienda said a study found that most tertiary institutions in Namibia are based in Windhoek, and that about 90 per cent of students come from towns outside the capital or neighbouring countries.
These institutions include the University of Namibia (UNAM); Institute for Open Learning (IOL); and the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN).
“If you look at Unam, the nearest State clinic to Unam is the Robert Mugabe Clinic (in the central business district). Now just imagine students have to take taxis from Unam to the clinic and queue up; and to ensure that they receive service at that clinic, they have to be there at 05h00,” she said.
This is risky for girls who have to take a taxi in the early morning hours to that clinic for family planning or other medical services.
The MP noted that she received reports that nurses ask young women to explain why they want assistance in family planning. “This motion to be tabled also aims to ensure better relations between patients and medical staff,” she said.
Dienda said most young women are sexually active already and cannot afford or do not want to have babies at this point in time, so nurses preaching abstinence is not as effective as it used to be.
“For me it is about prevention, which is better than cure,” she said.
Establishing clinics at tertiary institutions also aims to lighten the financial burden of taxi fares, clinic fees and medicine prescription costs.
Dienda urged the public to engage in this debate and talk about deeper issues like baby dumping, abortion and the lack of counsellors who can give services to these girls.
UNAM's Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Vincent Shimutwikeni said his council and students at the main campus welcome the deliberations pertaining to essential health services for the student community.
He told Nampa on Monday that students expect the debate to be prompt because the need for clinics is great on various campuses.
“We, the students, expect action-oriented and focused talks from lawmakers on this issue. We expect the line ministry, in this case the Health Ministry, to support this initiative and all issues pertaining to the clinics’ staff, their working hours, and operations,” said Shimutwikeni.
On the issue of baby dumping at the Unam main campus in Windhoek, he said the introduction of the clinic will greatly help, as students will have access to health care facilities.
“This will enhance information dissemination and services and thus give assistance to the students,” he said.
He mentioned two discarded fetuses discovered at the campus last semester.
The Unam clinic has been closed since 2012.
The SRC president said this was due to rules and regulations that need to be adhered to before the Health Ministry allows the institution to reopen the clinic.
“The need for a bigger and better facility was discussed by the university’s management and a site has been identified, and plans have been submitted and approved,” he said, adding that the new Unam clinic is expected by 2016.
Independent life coach, Michael Mulondo said he is expects every young woman to make informed decisions, meaning that medical clinics will have to create awareness and provide knowledge and access to information to help women make informed decisions on health matters.
He said the number of young women who fall pregnant at university is alarming.
“From observation, it is mostly the first and second-year students who fall pregnant. Now, if we say that they have the knowledge about pregnancy and risky behaviours, why are they making risky decisions that may harm their unborn babies?” Mulondo asked.
He added that the debate in the NA has to look at how to bridge the transition from Grade 12 to tertiary education for young women to better prepare themselves for their futures.
“I hope that the clinics come with an orientation programme that will help young men and women at university gain skills, knowledge and information to make the right decisions,” he said.