Journalists asked to report accurately on health information

Stefanus Nashama

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has urged media houses to report factual information on patients’ health conditions.

This comes after several media outlets reported on a patient’s death at Katutura Health Care Centre in Windhoek on Monday.

The reports said that the patient died while waiting for health services.

Nangombe stated that the sequence of events and observations from healthcare workers do not align with the claim that the individual passed away while waiting for medical attention.

The ministry said in a statement that a private vehicle brought an adult male to the health centre on Monday.

The patient, according to the ministry, was unresponsive on arrival.

“The driver entered the health centre and informed an enrolled nurse on duty that he had an emergency at the entrance of the health centre. He indicated that before coming to Katutura Health Centre, he took the unresponsive individual to Hakahana Clinic. The ministry stated that the facility closes at 17:00, making it impossible to assist patients then.

The ministry further explained that the health officials at the clinic found the patient’s pulse was very low and advised the driver to take him to either Okuryangava Clinic, which operates until 19h00, or Katutura Health Centre, which operates for 24 hours.

“The driver proceeded to Katutura Health Centre. Upon arrival, the driver informed the facility staff about the emergency. An enrolled nurse who promptly performed a vital signs check found that the person was unresponsive and had no signs of life. She alerted a colleague about the case. Meanwhile, a senior nurse also attended to the patient and also observed that the person in the vehicle had no signs of life. The nurses alerted one of the doctors on duty about a possible case of “death-on-arrival” on the premises,” reads the ministry’s statement.

Based on the observations, the doctor determined a case of death-on-arrival and requested that the body be moved inside the health centre to complete the necessary paperwork for transportation to the state mortuary, according to the ministry.

At that time, an argument occurred between a nurse and a member of the public, according to the ministry.

An individual who was at the scene and claimed to be a police officer stated that death was a police matter, as only a police officer could remove the body from the vehicle.

The same member called the police, and everyone waited for their arrival while the body remained inside the vehicle.

The police arrived two hours later but explained that their involvement was not necessary.

“The body was then taken to the health centre, examined in the presence of a police officer, and transported to the state mortuary,” reads the statement.

According to the ministry, a postmortem examination will be conducted to determine the cause of death, with the consent of the family.

Last week, the executive director of the ministry, Ben Nangombe, urged journalists and editors to avoid distributing and broadcasting unverified information about patients.

“The ministry urges journalists and editors to refrain from the distribution and broadcasting of unverified information, especially about patients and their medical or health conditions,” Nangombe stated.

He cautioned the public not to interfere with health workers’ work.

According to Nangombe, the incident highlights many of the issues involved.

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