NURSES and doctors at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital in the Oshana region are scrambling for personal protective equipment (PPE), reusing what they have as the country’s third Covid-19 wave surges.
The healthcare workers say they are in desperate need of masks, gloves and gowns.
Nurses at the hospital say they are forced to wear the same masks for days and even weeks at a time.
A nurse, who prefers to remain anonymous, says the hospital has been struggling to acquire PPE for months, and the situation is getting worse as the number of infections grows.
“This has been an ongoing struggle, and the hospital’s management seems not to care. They are not doing anything to assist us. We have complained and have written them letters, stating how frustrated we are working during a deadly pandemic without sufficient protective gear.
“We have families to take care of, but our lives are endangered at work. We have to reuse one mask for a whole week. Sometimes we are forced to buy our own masks. The management must act urgently, because they are risking our lives,” the nurse says.
The Oshakati Intermediate Hospital earlier this month received an undisclosed number of PPE, however, staff members say this was insufficient, because they are still reusing the available protective gear.
Another hospital worker says they are battling to do their jobs for fear of contracting the virus.
“We do not know whether this is a national crisis, or just at our hospital. Our lives are in great danger, and sometimes we are afraid of attending to the sick people, because we do not have PPE.
“The situation at the hospital is overwhelming.
“We do receive gloves and masks from time to time, but they are just not enough . . . Everyone gets one mask per day, and that’s it,” he says.
On Friday, a group of businessmen from Oshakati and the Oshakati Town Council donated masks, gloves and gowns to the hospital.
Rani Trader donated medical equipment worth N$62 000, while the town council donated equipment worth N$10 000.
Officiating at the handover, Oshana governor Elia Irimari said the hospital is in dire need of medical equipment, and that the lives of healthcare workers at the facility are in danger.
“This crisis should not be left up to the government only. Everyone must come on board and assist with what they have, because we are in this together. We cannot afford to risk the lives of our healthcare workers,” he said.
Acting hospital superintendent Asumani Kibandwa says the hospital is experiencing a shortage of PPE due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, and the hospital is receiving an overwhelming number of patients on a daily basis.
“Our Covid-19 ward is full of patients, and we are still receiving more patients. We are trying our best to control the situation and make sure our healthcare workers’ lives are protected. The situation of the lack of PPE is beyond our control, because it’s a crisis all over the country, it’s not only at Oshakati,” he says.
He appeals to the business community in the north to come to the hospital’s rescue.