some isolated TB patients at Katutura State Hospital are smoking cigarettes in the wards.
The patients are supposed to be monitored because of the high contagiousness of the disease.
A nurse in charge of the TB Isolation Unit, Rachel Shikongo, said the hospital is aware of the problem but that Government does not have a policy that restricts patients from keeping or smoking cigarettes.
“It’s a difficult situation to control, even though they are not allowed to smoke, there is really no policy to prevent them from smoking,” said Shikongo.
Katutura State Hospital PRO, Manga Libita, admitted that there is inadequate monitoring and restriction although she maintained that the facility provides health education and counseling to TB patients on a daily basis.
“We smoke cigarettes in the laundry room. Sometimes we go outside as there is hardly any control over our movements here,” said Rudy Van Wyk, a TB patient in a high infectious unit. He also added that due to lack of proper control measures in place, visitors bring in cigarettes during visiting hours.
Another TB patient in the ward, Melastus Fobes said they can get cigarettes anyhow.
“Most of us are in this place because of smoking, we crave for cigarette here and we always find a way to get cigarettes in here,” said Fobes who was diagnosed with TB in October last year.
Libita said despite this, they educate and counsel TB patients on the disease. “We engage the patients in health education and counseling done by doctors and social workers. There is no official routine inspection, we only inspect when a report has been made. They are not allowed to go out and when we lock the doors, they’d go out through the windows.”