by Sakeus Iikela
THE Windhoek municipality’s emergency response department is failing to provide employees with adequate personal protective equipment in the wake of the rising spread of the novel coronavirus in the capital.
The municipality’s emergency service employees respond to several situations in the city, including health emergencies.
In a letter of complaint directed to the city manager of emergency services, Raymond Kapia last month, the employees said it was difficult for “responders to determine the body temperature of patients since thermometers on the ambulances are not working at all”.
The workers claim that they have raised the issue with the management at several occasions but nothing has been done.
In addition, the employees claim that the municipality’s ambulances are not equipped with thermometer gun, gloves and masks as directed by the World Health Organisation, as well as sanitisers and detergents.
“The lack of protective gear and equipment can be taken as negligence if the transmission is from a healthcare provider to a patient. It is not easy to operate under this current situation.
“We are professionals and we’re supposed to lead by example when it comes to responding to ambulance calls. We attend to most if not all ambulance calls around the city, especially in low-income settlements,” the letter reads.
The workers further claimed that they had no thermometers at their stations to test “all members every day when they report for duty to avoid infecting others and our patients when responding to calls”.
“The lack of providing proper equipment to reach the required ambulance standards and procedures directly affects our duties. Our mission is to deliver effective and efficient services, reduce and eliminate hazards,” the letter reads.
According to the municipality’s employees who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity this week, there are two people who have been isolated from others because they came into contact with a person suspected of having the coronavirus.
According to the employee, the suspected patient was transferred to the Robert Mugabe Clinic. The source further said they have been using substandard masks and they have been told to use the same masks for up to four times.
“Some people who worked with the ambulance during the weekend came in contact with the person who showed signs of Covid-19. They mingled with others at the station and were isolated later. We are told to use the masks we are getting for at least four times,” the person said.
Kapia denied the allegations of shortages of protective equipment for the employees.
He also denied that two medics have been isolated after coming into contact with a patient suspected to have the coronavirus.
He said at the moment, the municipality’s emergency service had ceased attending to medical emergencies and that all cases of that nature are referred to the health ministry.
“We have all those things that you are talking about. We even restocked for the purposes of Covid-19 just in case we are called to attend to patients. What we have done is that we have issued three alerts to our members to make sure that they are adhering to the regulations and to wear their PPE.
“But, at the moment, we are not attending to Covid-19 cases. Whenever we have a suspected case of Covid-19, we contact the ministry of health to come and deal with the issue,” he said.