Health ministry calls for collaborative efforts

Covid-19 cases could soon reach 2000

27 July 2020 | Health

Ester Muinjangue; Deputy minister; “I am sorry for what happened... We need to take hands and work together.

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

The private sector Erongo Corona Care (ECC) initiative that was established to assist government in the fight against Covid-19, addressed the ministerial delegation in Walvis Bay.

ECC chairperson Heritha Muyoba said that the initiative consists of almost 7o members.

“We are here to help as best we can. We have no ulterior motives. We have done an assessment of the region in terms of Covid-19 readiness, which along with projections, was submitted to the health minister in March/April already.”

Muyoba said this was done to ensure that a regional plan is in place when the pandemic hits the region.

“[But] we have lost that opportunity. The first lockdown was not used adequately. Along the way, we have done what we could. We went to our members, collected sponsorships and renovated facilities. We need to use Walvis Bay as a case study to ensure that all other regions in the country do not fall in the same trap.”

The ECC predicts that by the end of July, Walvis Bay will have 2000 positive Covid-19 cases and by August this number could reach 6000.

“We’ve developed a statistical plan, showing how the rate of infection will grow in Walvis Bay. We identified warehouses to be utilised as quarantine facilities. While certain experts indicated that we will only have 210 cases by January 2021, we’ve already surpassed the 1000 mark. We should rather have been over-prepared. This should truly be a lesson for us.”

Field hospital

Earlier this year, the ECC set a plan in motion to build a 150-bed field hospital which still requires approval.

However, the minister of health indicated that approval had been granted, adding that he has no idea what happened to the approval when it was passed down to the regional health directorate.

Meanwhile, the deputy minister of health, Ester Muinjangue said that since the announcement of the first positive Covid-19 cases in Namibia, government began to act.

“It is unfortunate that not everyone knows what government is planning to do. Government is not just sitting and waiting for the virus to disappear. We expect that all regions in the country will be affected.”

Muinjangue said that she appreciates what the private sector is trying to do.

“The minister told us to meet with the ECC and not to return without doing so. This is a sign that we want to cooperate. I am sorry about what happened in the past. But now is not the time to point fingers; it is a time for us to come together.”

She said that private sector and community-based initiatives may have different expertise to that of government.

“We all have different expertise aand skills. That is why it is so important for us to cooperate, for the sake of all Namibians. It is not about us, it is about our people and their safety. I am disturbed by how decisions are withdrawn and stopped by government, but I believe that is not the attitude anymore. We need each other.”

‘Fully aware’

The deputy minister said that in terms of readiness, the ministry is fully aware that when it first started dealing with Covid-19, the plan was to quarantine and isolate.

“In the process, we realised that this isn’t working. Countries all over the world are going through the same process. We are learning as we go forward. We will make mistakes from which we have to learn. The lockdown was another way for us to see if it is effective or not. It is all about trial and error. It is good to have a projection, and that is why we need to work together. Where we lack, private sector can fill and vice versa.”

Muinjangue said that if government did not care about its people, the ministerial delegation would not be visiting the harbour town.

“We would not have been here to familiarize ourselves with what is happening on the ground. Now is the time for us to go back and share with government. I am sure that something positive will come from this visit.”

She thanked the ECC for their proactive approach and the extensive research they’ve done.

“Perhaps we should have started setting plans in motion a long time ago. Perhaps we should have moved at a faster pace. With that I agree. Cases are increasing, and our health workers are facing their biggest challenge yet and they’re burnt out. Now we need to look at how we can strengthen our local leadership.”

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