By giving cleaning tenders to private companies, the Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) Bernard Haufiku is trying to give away his responsibility to private cleaning companies and abandoning the public service at hospitals.
This was the view of Petrus Iilonga, a former Deputy Minister of Defence.
He said the MoHSS is not a private ministry and is a public service, and should thus be cleaned by public workers.
“How can you want to alleviate poverty, and push people into poverty at the same time? It does not make sense”, the politician argued, saying the minister wants to grab bread from the current cleaners.
Iilonga, who recently lost in his attempt to return as a union leader, said he will continue to fight for the rights of workers.
“Things in the public sector used to work back in the days. Why can’t they be fixed by the government workers now, why hire people from the private sector to do work which government workers can fix?”, he questioned.
He, nonetheless, seemed to be turning a blind eye to the current unhygienic state of hospitals by saying “I dare you to go to the Katutura State Hospital and any other hospital, and you will see how clean they are. People are doing their jobs.”
Iilonga furthermore described the idea of the ministry planning to use private cleaning companies as ‘punishment’ to the current cleaners, adding that collective punishment is not allowed at all as it is capitalism.
“What miracle is the private sector going to perform which the public sector couldn’t?
They are only here for the profit and exploitation of government facilities”, he charged.
“The government should just educate the management at health facilities, and be strict on them. It won’t help to involve the private sector. If one person doesn’t do their job, they must be confronted alone, not the whole system being blamed”, he said.
Haufiku countered by saying that Iilonga must consult him if he has a better idea of ensuring hygiene in hospitals, and should not “sit there and bellowing things which don’t make sense.”
“Iilonga should know that I am not here to politicise health issues. Cleaners at hospitals are just sitting around while hospitals are filthy and when approached, they would become arrogant”, Haufiku stressed.
The new minister said he has been to over 40 hospitals across the country, and he is not happy with the hygiene at most facilities.
“Health facilities with their unhygienic areas are not fit for humans. The Katutura Nurses’ Home is one of the places which needs to be cleaned properly”, he added.
Haufiku said the ministry is big, and there are many responsibilities which they have to undertake, with the most important one being to make sure that the health of Namibians is assured efficiently. “If a worker does not want to work, they must move aside for someone else to step in”, the doctor said.
“We need to outsource our services like catering, maintenance and the cleaning of health facilities to private companies for them to manage it. That way, we will be paying more attention to health”, he noted, adding that his ministry wants to work more on recruiting nurses, doctors and specialists due to the shortages of health personnel.
Namibia currently houses 120 Cuban medical personnel, which costs the country a salary of N$31 800 per month per specialist; N$25 440 is spent on each medical engineer with a degree; N$23 320 on specialised nurses; and N$21 200 on health personnel and technicians with diplomas, The Villager had revealed previously.
Haufiku said the public sector has to work together with the private sector, and in that way they will be creating jobs in both sectors.
With regards to health infrastructure upgrades, he said they have a master plan, which is in the pipeline.