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Mothers, babies sleeping on floor at Katutura hospital

MOTHERS at Katutura Intermediate Hospital’s paediatric ward in Windhoek have been sleeping on floors with their sick children due to a shortage of beds.

Some mothers at the children’s ward who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity described the the situation as tough. In addition, they said ablution facilities are not working properly for some weeks now.

“I feel so relieved that my baby has been discharged and we are going home. We didn’t have water. Water comes from other wards,” said one of the mothers.

“I was operated on and sleeping on the mattress on the floor was not easy. The one I was sleeping on was smaller and I couldn’t fold myself unless I lay down straight only,” she said, adding that the toilets are blocked.

Another mother said the bathtub is always dirty and suggested the hospital install a shower at the ward.

“I’m not sure if the cleaners clean every day, because it can be uncomfortable to use the bathrooms at times,” she said.

Another mother added: “The water comes and goes at these wards, we don’t always have water.”

A nurse who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation said there has always been a lack of beds because many patients are referred to the hospital from other regions.

Executive director of health Ben Nangombe said the number of patients treated and admitted at the public health facilities has increased.

“This is true for many departments in our public hospital. In the case of the Katutura hospital’s paediatric ward, which has the capacity to admit 84 paediatric patients (Ward 8A x 42 patients, Ward 8B x 42 patients), the hospital management had to innovate by way of removing some of the beds from the rooms,” he said.

He added that stable patients share mattresses with their mothers.

“The provision of mattresses gives better comfort for the new mothers as they would otherwise have to sit on chairs,” Nangombe explained.

This reflects the confidence that the people have in the public health sector on which more than 85% of the population depends. With increasing health-seeking behaviour comes higher demand for and pressure on the physical space available.

On the other hand, pediatric patients who require high care are cared for and nursed in cot beds or incubators, as required.

The minister said the physical space constraints will be effectively dealt with through the construction of new health facilities or expansion of existing one, such as the new projects completed in the Windhoek Central/Katutura hospital complex.

“These include the construction of new Covid-19 isolation facilities, which can be repurposed to cater for other categories of patients,” he said.

This resource maximisation includes the conversion of the old nurses hall into a ward, the conversion of the old NIP building at Katutura hospital into a ward and the addition of a 98-bed facility at the old Katutura hospital TB ward, which now also include a dialysis unit with six beds, he said.


Nangombe added that the ministry has secured and fenced off land to build a new district hospital in Windhoek.

On the interruption to water supply, he said this may occur due to a number of factors such as interruptions that may occur from time to time. However, he said contingency plans are in place to provide water through tankers or other such means.

“That is the case with Katutura Intermediate Hospital. There is ongoing maintenance work to repair ageing fittings in our health facilities. There has been no disruption to water supply in the hospital this year,” he said.

He added that there is ongoing work to repair the gypsum boards and other fittings in the wards on the 8th floor with support from the private sector, while the procurement process to renovate Wards 5, 6, and 7 will be completed soon. The contractors are expected on site during the first quarter of this year.

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