WALVIS BAY - About 85 patients receiving medical care at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund state hospitals have been without food since Saturday.
This is a direct consequence of the catering company, Tyetu Trading, contracted to supply food, withdrawing its services due to outstanding money owed it by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
The Walvis Bay Municipality was alerted about the situation over the weekend by the acting regional director of health and social services, Dr Amir Shaker, through a letter.
In response the mayor of Walvis Bay, Wilfred Immanuel, sent an SOS requesting assistance from the business community as the hospital administration did not have a plan B for the crisis.
Immanuel through various donations and the mayoral fund as well as the 518 Neighbourhood Watch has made substantial contributions since Saturday to feed patients at the hospital. Patients were also informed on Saturday by the medical staff at the various hospitals who hastily had to source food from good Samaritans to ensure that patients are fed, to take their medication.
According to staff members at the hospitals some of the patients also relied on relatives to bring them meals from home.
They told New Era yesterday that the catering company has been struggling to meet its contractual obligation as it is not paid on time by the health ministry.
A nurse who requested anonymity as she is not allowed to speak to the media told New Era they have been aware of the catering company’s predicament as the ministry of health had piles of unpaid invoices for services rendered by the caterer waiting to be settled.
When contacted for comment, the permanent secretary in the health ministry Ben Nangombe said it was an unfortunate situation, but it was resolved on Tuesday.
He added that all challenges between the ministry and the catering company have also been addressed and that all the outstanding invoices were settled on Tuesday.
Asked how much the ministry owed the catering company, Nangombe said he cannot avail the figure as it is an agreement between the ministry and the catering company.
“However, I can tell you that it is not in millions,” he said.