Ministry of Health on its knees financially

25 Apr 2018 14:30pm
WINDHOEK, 25 APR (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Health and Social Services is on its knees financially and can no longer “do more with less”.
This was revealed by line minister Bernard Haufiku in the National Assembly on Tuesday, when he said the ministry needs at least N.dollars 9 billion to execute its mandate.
The ministry was allocated N.dollars 6 537 1 02 000 for this financial year. Last year (2017/18) it received N.dollars 6 514 579 000 and in the 2016/17 financial year received N.dollars 7 230 983 000.
“I said we are determined to do more with little. I have reversed that position. We are unable to do with what we have at the moment. I must be honest,” said Haufiku.
He said at face value, the health budget sounds like a lot but is not enough.
At the moment, the ministry faces an avalanche of challenges, all with one common denominator – a shortage of funds.
“The reality is that we need more funds,” he pleaded.
The ministry has submitted its new structure to the Office of the Prime Minister for implementation.
“We have the positions, all described in detail, but we do not have the funds,” Haufiku said.
He also said the ministry does not have a dialysis centre or a paediatric intensive care unit.
“At the moment, we are paying something like N.dollars 44 million for roughly 290 patients who need dialysis done in the private sector. If we had our own machine, we would tremendously reduce this cost,” he said.
Children with heart conditions are taken to South Africa for operations, which also places financial strain on the ministry, Haufiku said.
In addition, several capital projects of the ministry have also been put on ice.
Work on a tuberculosis ward in Keetmanshoop, maternity ward in Rundu, clinic in Epupa, and hospital at Okahao has been halted.
To mitigate the financial dilemma, Haufiku hinted that they are looking at closing down an entire department in a bid to save funds to be diverted to critical services.
He suggested either the security or catering departments, saying security could be provided by the Namibian Police or Namibian Defense Force, while catering can be done internally.
The situation is so dire that the minister opted to not have a personal assistant or special advisor and he only has one driver assigned to him.
“These are all measures that save money, even though it’s little,” he said.
These revelations come at a time when the ministry is unable to employ new nurses during the 2018/19 financial year, also owing to lack of funds.