Kunene uturns on dialysis patients

By Maria Kandjungu

KUNENE regional health director Thomas Shapumba has put brakes on Outjo District Hospital’s plan to stop providing food and transport services to dialysis patients, noting that the decision could negatively affect the patients’ quality of life.

Shapumba’s intervention came after the hospital issued a directive telling dialysis patients that as of 1 June they will no longer be providing transport and food packs to dialysis patient from Outjo to Otjiwarongo.

The decision was met with disapproval by family members of the affected patients. who said the decision was unfair and discriminatory.

“We are aware of the letter and when my office was made aware I asked that decision be put on hold for further attention and review. We will give it our full attention and consideration to ensure that it does not affect the quality of life for the patients and that it does not discriminate against anyone. It is sufficient to say it is of no concern for now. It is on hold until further notice. The patients can rest assured that we will continue to provide services, they must not fear,” Shapumba told Confidente.

Dialysis is a form of medical treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine. This helps keep a persons’ fluids and electrolytes in balance when the kidneys can’t do their job.

Outjo District Hospital has about six dialysis patients living in Otjiwarongo, who because of their condition need to visit the hospital twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) for check-ups and treatment.

According to the letter by the hospital’s acting senior medical officer, Dr. A Kabongo, their initial decision to stop providing the services was a result of complaints from dialysis patients that the food they were getting from the hospital was very little and too salty.

Kabongo, who issued the directive to stop food and transport services also noted in the letter that the patients constantly complained that the packets mostly consisted of food that they were told not to eat by their doctor due to their medical condition.

“We also received complaints about the transport, that it is their car and employees are not supposed to climb in,” Kabongo wrote. She further noted that dialysis patients receive social grants due to their debilitating condition, and that the money is enough to cover all their needs and expenses.

“Due to all the above-mentioned reasons, the hospital will not provide the food packs anymore with immediate effect, and we will only provide transport until 31 May 2020. A period of two months was given for you to make all necessary arrangements with your doctors or to move to the nearest facility for the service you may need,” she concluded.

Contacted telephonically for further clarification about the decision, Kabongo simply said that she does not speak to journalists before hanging up.

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