GOBABIS – The Omaheke regional leadership has expressed concern about the lack of an intensive care unit (ICU) facility in the region, despite the Covid-19 virus that has killed over 205 000 globally.
This was revealed during the Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (RDRMC) meeting held in Gobabis last week.
Omaheke Regional Director of Health and Social Services Jeremia Shikulo made a presentation on the region’s preparedness and response to the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country, during which he said there is no ICU facility in the region. Due to the absence of an ICU facility, there is also no ventilator in the region. Shikulo said ICU facilities are normally just at referral hospitals as they require specialist medical personnel to run such facilities. Omaheke does not have a referral hospital. In case a patient requires ICU admission, arrangements are made with Windhoek hospitals to admit such a patient. Nonetheless, not all positive cases would need ICU admission. However, the lack of an ICU facility in the region worries the regional leaders. Chairperson of the Omaheke regional council Ignatius Kariseb said the region needs to be prepared to treat patients who might require ICU admission, instead of relying solely on referral hospitals in the region. “What if we get a [Covid-19] patient in the region who requires intensive care and the ICU facilities in Windhoek are full?” he questioned. Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate suggested the region should start preparing towards getting an ICU facility to ensure no human life is lost due to Covid-9 or any future life-threatening disease outbreaks.
The RDRMC, therefore, agreed that the office of the governor should start engaging both the private and public health sector for the region to acquire an ICU facility. The Regional Directorate of Health and Social Services has commenced with Covid-19 screening at Gobabis District Hospital and at the Trans-Kalahari Border Post, which have been identified as the hotspots for surveillance. All other health facilities are implementing triage, a process of determining treatment for patients based on their condition. Three environmental health officials and two nurses have been deployed to the Trans-Kalahari Border Post for surveillance, under the coordination and supervision of a senior health programme officer. The surveillance team will conduct an active case search at all health facilities in the region and screen all inmates in police cells and at the Gobabis correctional facility. This exercise will be done once sufficient thermoguns have been received from the ministry of health’s head office. The Regional Directorate of Health, however, has a limited number of vehicles and ambulances in running condition.
Five vehicles have been requested from the head office, but they have not yet been availed. The Gobabis government garage has assigned four pick-ups, a bus and two drivers for Covid-19 logistics in the region.
*Tauno Iileka is the spokesperson for the Omaheke Regional Council.