Haufiku criticises Angola travel ban, saying patients need treatment

Eba Kandovazu

ANGOLA’s decision to ban Namibia amidst the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has largely been criticised, with some saying it is not a patriotic move as Southern African Development Community(SADC) countries are still challenging the European Union (EU) red list, calling it a rushed and discriminatory approach.

Former Health and Social Services Minister, Bernardt Haufiku, says Angola’s decision was irrational as her southern parts depend largely on Namibia for medical care. “Just three days ago I had to write letters. Even now I’m sitting in my office with a message from a patient in Luanda, crying that his medicine is finished, that I should contact him. I had to write letters to Angolan authorities and Namibian immigration to allow this patient to come in Namibia for medical reasons. The ban is a constrain, not only an irrational decision but it is a suffocating decision. I haven’t even touched on the economic implications,” Haufiku says.

Ironically, an Angolan man was attacked by a hippo and subsequently lost his arm on Wednesday while crossing the Kavango River to enter Namibia. The incident occurred at Nkurenkuru. The man is reportedly receiving medical treatment at Nkurenkuru state hospital.

Meanwhile, the EU yesterday u-turned on banning Namibia.

In the latest developments, it is reported that Namibia and Jordan have been removed from the EU red list, allowing non-essential travel to the bloc as the Council of the EU revised rules for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new rules valid as of yesterday, residents from Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Rwanda, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay can travel to the EU for non-essential purposes regardless of their vaccination status.

Haufiku maintains that the sudden rise in recorded COVID-19 cases around the country is a matter of concern. “It is however not surprising, looking at the social behaviour in Namibia. The question now is whether or not we are prepared in the true sense of preparedness. Not just preparing hospitals for beds or oxygen but also preparing ourselves mentally, economically and all aspects of our lives. I want to be assured that we are prepared for whatever may be coming and that we are not going to go through the cycle of June, July and August this year,” Haufiku says.

He emphasises that public health measures and vaccinations will contribute to preparedness. Expressing his disappointment at the public on adherence to COVID-19 measures, Haufiku says: “I do not really believe in policy enforcement. We deal with adults who ought to have capacity for understanding and engaging, to understand that it is really for the good of all of us. We have a lot of policies in place. It is our attitude and behaviour that is the biggest obstacle. We tend to gravitate away from things that are for the good of all of us. I don’t know whether it has to do with upbringing, poverty or politics. Maybe we need to have some cohort of study to better understand what exactly is making Namibians behave in a way that is negating of their health and wellbeing,” Haufiku stresses.

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