Andrew Kathindi

There is still no movement on the construction of the northern referral hospital, three years on after government mooted the idea, Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula has revealed.

The hospital which was set to be built in the Oshana region, was meant to cater to six other nearby northern regions, including Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kunene and part of Kavango West.

Plans for the Northern Academic Referral Hospital were announced by former Health Minister Bernard Haufiku in 2017.

“It has not been abandoned. It is still in the planning stage. It remains part of the overall plans of the Ministry, there is no period attached to it for completion,” Shangula told Windhoek Observer.

The Minister further revealed that two other referral hospitals have also been added to the list, one of which is planned for Windhoek and another in Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West region.

“They are all in the planning stage,” the Minister said.

He added that the Windhoek referral hospital would be separate from Katutura and Central hospitals.

The northern hospital was planned as to alleviate the burden on a number of hospitals in the northern regions and to eliminate the need to send patients to Windhoek for treatment.

The hospital was to have over 1,000 beds and was expected to cost over N$1 billion. It was also meant to serve academic and research purposes.

The hospital which remains in the Ministry’s plans became a bone of much contention between Haufiku and President Hage Geingob after the President questioned, in a letter to Haufiku, why the former Minister was still exploring areas outside of Ondangwa as an alternative site, when the cabinet had already taken a decision.

“I am, therefore, puzzled by your insistence on exploring alternative sites outside the jurisdiction of Ondangwa town, given that the cabinet has already decided on the matter. In this regard, as a way forward, I advise that all stakeholders respect and adhere to the CCOPP’s decision,” President Geingob had written.

Haufiku had said in 2018, according to media reports, that he was unhappy with the political turn that the matter of the referral hospital had taken and that people were likely to suffer while the issue was being prolonged.

Haufiku and the President’s relationship further deteriorated leading to him being removed from the Ministry of Health and transferred to the Office of the Vice President as an advisor by Geingob in December that year.