HEALTH

Namibia’s constitution requires the state to ensure “… that every citizen has a right to fair and reasonable access to public facilities and services in accordance with the law.” The government is committed to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and, consequently, public health has been one of the largest budget items since independence.

Public health care is provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) which is also responsible for the regulation of health care services and professions. Primary health care is fundamental to the ministry’s strategy to deliver accessible, affordable and targeted public health services to every Namibian. There are 431 public health care facilities country-wide, including 27 hospitals. Windhoek Central Hospital is the national referral hospital, while Katutura Hospital (also in the capital), Rundu in the Kavango-West Region and Onandjokwe and Oshakati in north-central Namibia are intermediate hospitals. There are 37 health centres and, especially for people in remote rural areas, over 280 clinics and mobile clinics. Ambulance services are provided for patients in need of emergency medical care. Namibia’s size, combined with the fact that it has one of the lowest population densities in the world, poses a serious challenge to providing universal access to services.

HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, strokes and cardiac conditions are among the most serious health conditions. There has been a reduction of 36% in the number of new HIV/Aids infections between 2010 and 2019, and the prevalence rate for HIV/Aids among people between 15 and 49 years old is 11.5%. Coverage of adults and children receiving antiretroviral therapy stood at 85% in 2019. Malaria is endemic in the north of the country, but various control measures are in place. Namibia, like the rest of the world, is battling to contain the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and has rolled out vaccination campaigns.

Namibia does not have a national health insurance fund. Patients who have the means pay nominal fees at public health facilities, while selected categories of patients are treated free of charge. Private health insurance is provided by ten medical aid societies and the Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS) for government employees and their families. The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) is responsible for, among others, the registration of medical aid fund rules and monitoring the financial soundness of funds.

Private Facilities

A vibrant private health sector caters for higher income groups and those with medical insurance. Private health services are provided by over 200 facilities countrywide. In addition to five private hospitals in Windhoek, there are also private hospitals in the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, Otjiwarongo and Tsumeb in the north as well as Ongwediva in north-central Namibia. They are equipped with state-of-the art technology and provide a wide spectrum of medical services including general and specialised surgery which meets international standards. However, investment opportunities to build more private hospitals exist in other parts of the country.

Private medical treatment is also available at health centres and clinics throughout the country, and registered private medical practitioners provide a comprehensive range of services. Pathology diagnostic testing is done by Pathcare Namibia and the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), a statutory body. The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NamBTS), an autonomous body, is responsible for the collection and testing of blood and the supply of safe blood products in Namibia. Private ambulance services, emergency and medical evacuation, including air rescue, are available in Windhoek and the major towns.

Regulatory Environment

The health sector is governed by a number of statutory bodies to ensure professional health care. Medical practitioners, dentists and staff employed in certain professions allied to the medical profession are regulated by councils, whose functions include the registration of practitioners. The Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) is responsible for the development and maintenance of internationally acceptable standards of medicines control. Training for health professionals is provided at the University of Namibia’s schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health. The Namibia University of Science and Technology’s Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences offers a variety of courses.

The Health Professions Council of Namibia is responsible for controlling and exercising authority in respect of “… matters affecting the education and training of healthcare professionals and the way they practice their respective professions.” It consists of five councils: the Medical and Dental Council, Nursing Council, Pharmacy Council, Social Work and Psychology Council and the Allied Health Professions Council. Despite favourable consumer surveys, the MoHSS recognises that service quality must be improved at all levels, especially in primary health care, obstetric care and ambulance services. The MoHSS is committed to making improvements in these areas and is working on several reforms, such as restructuring the MoHSS, systems integration, improved NHA and implementing the Health Extension Workers Strategy.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

Minister Hon. Dr Kalumbi Shangula

www.mhss.gov.na

The Ministry of Health and Social Services of Namibia (MOHSS) is the leading provider of quality healthcare and social services. It works toward providing integrated, affordable, and accessible quality healthcare and social services as per the needs of the population. The mandate of the Ministry of Health and Social Services is to promote and protect the health of the people of Namibia and to provide quality social services.