Namibia: Health workers at Covid-19 testing centre threaten to resign

Health workers at the Robert Mugabe Clinic in Windhoek threatens with resigning if the health ministry forces them out of the accommodation facilities paid for by the ministry.

The Robert Mugabe Clinic which is the main Covid-19 testing point in Windhoek was closed between 07h00 and 10h00 hours on Saturday following an announcement by the ministry that it would no longer accommodate staff members at the health centre.

However, the facility center was re-opened after the ministry’s executive director, Ben Nangombe, visited the facility to address staff who have been staying at the clinic since March in fear of infecting their families upon returning home from work.

On Thursday, Khomas regional health director Patemoshela Hamunyela in a letter said staff were to move back home which did not get down well with the health care workers at the health facility center.

“All healthcare workers accommodated in hotels, guest houses and lodges should vacate these places by 13 September 2020,” Hamunyela said. She urged healthcare workers to use personal protective equipment correctly to minimise the risk of infection. A nurse at the clinic, who chose to remain anonymous, said staff members feel the move is a cost-saving strategy by the ministry.

“We are the first to tend to Covid-19 cases. For them to send us a two-day notice to vacate and go back home is not right. The risk of infection is too high,” the nurse said. Adding that if forced to move home, completely living the job was an option to consider for some of her colleagues.

“It makes us think it’s better to go [and] work at another clinic where the risk is still there but not as high,” the nurse said.

She however assured that workers at the health facility will continue to work until the ministry comes back to them with results.

On the same note, while responding to questions on the ministry’s letter at State House last week Friday, Nangombe said only health workers in high-risk facilities are being requested to vacate their accommodation.

“Initially, we said anybody that is working at a facility where there may be exposure, that person must be isolated but we were advised by experts that only certain workers in certain working environments need to be isolated from their families,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are ongoing negotiations between the government and the health workers.

Liberty Pazvakawambwa

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