Nurses who are still breastfeeding their newborn babies now face eviction from the Katutura Nurses’ Home. Nurses are convinced that the eviction threats contradict the Ministry of Health’s policy and nurses’ training curriculum, which recommends breast-feeding for one year and six months. Many nurses’ babies, as young as 3-4 months, are now being denied the benefits from breast-feeding.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services does not allow nannies and dependents to live in the Nurses’ Home. A letter, dated 22 February 2012, signed by Dr. G. Judmann, Senior Superintendent of the Intermediate Hospital Katutura, reads: “Application of Renewal of Accommodation”, “Kindly be informed that your re-application to stay in the nurses Home is approved for a period of one year. Subject to re-apply after one year. According to the accommodation policy, no lodgers, dependents, nannies are allowed to stay with you in a single room.” He warned that the occupants will forfeit “the privilege granted to you to stay in the nurses’ quarters.”
On 13 April Judmann wrote: “Kindly be informed that the hospital management has decided to replace the locks of the rooms/flats which you are currently occupying. Be informed that by Friday 13 April the locks at your rooms will be replaced and you are therefore requested to contact the housemother to open your rooms/flats in order to remove your property. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
Another letter, dated 14 June and signed by T. Mukura, Chairperson of the Housing Committee at Katutura Hospital, titled “Final Notice for Eviction” notified one nurse that “numerous correspondences” were sent for “your dependent or lodgers to vacate, but in vain. The management has decided once again and finally that you have to remove your dependent, or lodger. Failure to adhere to this notice will result that the lock will be changed. You are therefore again given a period of grace up to Monday 18 June 2012 to remove your lodgers. Kindly take note that the locks will be changed by 19 June.”
The affected nurses feel that they are being discriminated against. Kenyan nurses who are breastfeeding, or have dependents, have been provided with two rooms, one for sleeping in and another for their nannies. The local nurses argue that their basic salary ranges from N$4 000 to N$6 000, plus N$400 for housing allowance and local banks are hesitant to give home-loans to low-income earners. The nurses propose that the Ministry should build one-room flats in Katutura for breast-feeding nurses.
“I am traumatised to the extent that whenever my name is called by house-mothers, I expect only to be informed about my eviction. I am now considering resigning and going to private hospitals or alternatively to apply for a transfer to my birth-place,” one worried nurse explained.
Chairperson of the Housing Committee, Mukura, told Informanté, “We are not allowed to speak to the media. You have to put your queries in writing, citing your complaints, and direct it to the Permanent Secretary.” The PS of the Ministry of Health and Social Services is Andrew Ndishishi.