Published Date: 2010-05-20 16:24:43
Subject: PRO/EAFR> Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (16): Namibia
Archive Number: 20100520.207475
INFLUENZA PANDEMIC (H1N1) 2009 (16): Namibia
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 19 May 2010
Source: AllAfrica, The Namibian report [edited]
A suspected swine flu [influenza pandemic (H1N1) virus infection]
patient was sent from pillar to post at both State hospitals in
Windhoek on Friday [14 May 2010], as her suspected symptoms caused
mayhem and confusion among medical staff. During a daylong ordeal,
[the woman] claims she was treated as an outcast by doctors and
nurses who refused to admit her to hospital for treatment.
Sources told The Namibian that the humiliating treatment the patient
experienced on Friday [14 May 2010] was proof that both State
hospitals were ill equipped and not ready to treat swine flu
patients. After 8 hours of to and fro between the hospitals, the
patient was finally tested and given Tamiflu by the Katutura State
Hospital. Then she was advised to go home, as the hospital did not
have an isolation ward available. The patient has a baby and other
young children at home, who are at particular risk from H1N1 infection.
The Windhoek Central Hospital turned her away earlier that day,
claiming they did not have medical staff to test or treat her. She
was referred to the Katutura Hospital, which had initially referred
her to the Windhoek Central Hospital. The patient claims that on her
2nd arrival at Katutura Hospital, she was temporarily denied access
into the hospital building and told "to sit on a dustbin." Eventually
she was taken to a deserted reception area and instructed to wait in
a "dark and cold room." She was finally "rescued" by a male nurse,
who for the 1st time that day explained her symptoms to her and
assisted her during her final hours at the hospital.
Here she was also swabbed for swine flu testing and received a
prescription for Tamiflu and painkillers. Then doctors sent her home.
She says she expected them to keep her at the hospital. "I wanted to
protect my children, my family." Her friend, who was at her side
during the day, said health officials treated the patient "as if she
was filled with a rotten thing. It made me very sad."
Sources claim there is no isolation ward for patients with suspected
infectious diseases at any of the hospitals, despite months of
preparation by the Ministry of Health for the onset of the flu
season. Administrators of the State hospitals have attended several
meetings at which the H1N1 pandemic was discussed. The patient says
the hospital nurses treated her in a "bad way" and some told her to
When she collected her medicine from the hospital pharmacy in the
early evening, the pharmacy nurse instructed her "to leave the room."
She eventually received proper attention from medical staff at
Katutura Hospital. A male nurse arrived and "he explained everything
to us. Although he wore a mask, he was not scared to be close to me."
Things began to pick up when a doctor re-examined the patient and
recommended that she get X-rays and wrote her a prescription for
medicine. She was also tested for swine flu. Between 19h00 and 20h00,
the patient was advised to go home.
Dr Innocent Zulu, the acting superintendent on duty at the Katutura
State Hospital on Friday [14 May 2010], said he had personally
attended to the patient in a consulting room at the end of the day.
He explained that it was important to keep her isolated from other
patients. "You can imagine if this person walks into the casualty
ward. This could be disastrous." He added that the hospital's
protocol prescribes that a patient suspected of being sick with H1N1
must be examined and treated in "an enclosed space."
Dr Zulu said in the case of this patient, the hospital recommended
that she go home, as this would keep her isolated from other
patients. In his opinion, the patient did not display any
complications and could be safely sent home, as per protocol. Dr Zulu
said she was visited by nurses every day, who kept a close eye on
her. "We gave her a dose of Tamiflu," he said. He added that he has
received daily reports on the patient's state and that "she is doing
Dr Zulu also explained that the fact that other clinics and the
Windhoek Central hospital had referred the patient to Katutura State
was because "not every centre is capable of handling a suspected case
of H1N1." Another health professional yesterday [18 May 2010] said
that the patient was "blatantly refused access" by the Windhoek State
Hospital and that the issue was the preparedness of the hospitals for
the flu season. "The infection is around and we need to pull up all
our resources. We need to be ready," he said. Sources claim that the
Katutura State Hospital yesterday started preparing a special ward
for possible H1N1 patients.
[Byline: Jana-Mari Smith]
[Despite the decline in pandemic H1N1 activity in the WHO-AFRO
region, and as indicated in the current report, Namibia is one of the
few countries in the region that that are still reporting suspect
cases. A total of 75 confirmed pandemic H1N1 cases and one death had
been reported in the country by 12 May 2010 (see
http://www.afro.who.int/index.php?Itemid=2544). The 1st 2 cases in
2010 were confirmed in April (see ProMED EAFR 20100411.206681
A map showing the regions of Namibia can be seen at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_Namibia, and the
HealthMap/ProMED interactive map of the country is available at
http://healthmap.org/r/009K. - Mod.JFW]