|Health?s laxity causes deaths|
|Thursday, 17 February 2011 09:04|
IN action by the Ministry of Health and Social Service on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations that they urgently review the Intaka oxygen tender could have caused the recent deaths at Windhoek Central Hospital, Informanté reveals.
According to the WHO Report released in November last year, Government was supposed to have reviewed its contract with Intaka for the supply of life-saving gas to hospitals after it emerged that the joint-Namibia and South African outfit had failed to meet the specified quality standards.|
Despite the Ministry of Health receiving the WHO report, on the assessment of medical gas systems in state hospitals in Namibia with emphasis on oxygen in November last year, Cabinet is still in the dark regarding the report’s findings.
Prime Minister Nahas Angula yesterday told Informanté that the WHO report never reached Cabinet.
“I am not happy about the situation, I am not comfortable at all and I don’t want lives to be lost especially due to negligence,” Angula said when asked why Government was ignoring the crisis situation at the hospitals.
The WHO states in its findings that the contract and management arrangements of the medical gases with Intaka should be reviewed to assure the consistent delivery of safe and quality oxygen and other medical gas products. WHO also found that indeed Intaka Technologies was supplying sub-standard oxygen to several state hospitals throughout the country.
The experts’ report highlighted the different discrepancies in the contract, ranging from quality control, technical support to invoicing. The Ministry of Health’s reluctance to take action against Intaka seems to validate allegations that senior Ministry officials received kickbacks to secure the lucrative tender.
Early in January this year, Health PS Kahijoro Kahuure told Informanté that the Ministry would asses the WHO report and act upon it. Between January and now about three deaths, linked to the lack of oxygen supply in the Windhoek Central hospital, have been reported.
According to hospital sources, the incidents at the Windhoek Central Hospital last weekend that led to the deaths of two people were as a result of the failure of the oxygen plant backup power generator systems.
“The oxygen was going on and off in the night when the power outage happened,” said a hospital source.
Although Windhoek Central Hospital was not among hospitals that were identified in the WHO report as having non-functioning backup power generation systems for their oxygen plants, the back-up system did not automatically switch on when there was a power outage over the weekend.
According to the report, the International Standards Organisation stipulates that a secondary source of oxygen supply shall be permanently connected to the pipeline system and should automatically supply the pipeline with oxygen in the event that the oxygen enriched air production plant is unable to supply the pipeline. “Unfortunately, none of the hospitals visited, including Windhoek Central Hospital, had an automatic change-over system. This was also not included in the procurement specifications provided,” reads the WHO report which is yet to be tabled before Cabinet.
The report also states that power generators provided by Intaka as part of the oxygen plants, were not functioning and cites Rundu, Keetmanshoop and Onandjokwe hospitals as heavily affected. The WHO report clearly states that “all the oxygen plants require fully functioning back-up power generators with automatic start-up and change-over switches to maintain gas production during power cuts or fluctuations.”
Health PS Kahuure yesterday said he could not comment since he was driving. Health Minister Richard Kamwi could not be reached for comment at all.