NAMIBIA: Bonita Nakanyala: "There is no way I will disclose my client's status to them."

Photo: Laura Lopez Gonzalez/IRIN
""How can you work with people who are sick and not care if they are healthy or not?"
OTJIVERO, 29 October 2008 (PlusNews) - Bonita Nakanyala is the head nurse at a small clinic in Otjivero, a village hemmed in by farmland about 150km east of Windhoek, the Namibian capital. Nakanyala spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about the tensions between the area's predominantly white farmers and her predominantly black clients.

"The farmers around us here, there are only few that are very nice. There is one who helps the people; sometimes he brings food, slaughtering kudu and then bringing the meat. Another, he is also bringing meat and even helped to build the school.

"The others? We have a problem with them when it comes to immunisation time. Every year, we have an immunisation time for the whole country but whenever we go to the farms we are having difficulties. The farmers [take up] their weapons; they don't want people to enter their land, but we are health workers.

"I had to take it to the regional office and the director took it to Windhoek, to the national level, and they had to phone and talk to the farmers. Still, when we went for the second time we were still having a problem, whereby we were unable to immunise some of our kids at those farms.

"Also, some of my patients who are on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment have problems. Every month, we are having outreach doctors from Gobabis [about 160km away, where the area's main referral hospital is located] to come and see our patients, both for ARVs or for those who need to see a doctor. We do inform the clients before time, but the farmers don't want the clients to come.

"I am having a case now where a farm worker must come and collect his treatment once a month, but his employer wants to deduct his payments. He was only getting paid N$150 (US$15) or something, and they were deducting every time for his clinic visits.

"If employers hear that a person is HIV-positive, they will fire them. The farmers come to the clinic and ask, 'Sister, what's the problem with this man?' but there is no way I will disclose my client's status to them, no way. 

"How can you work with people who are sick and not care if they are healthy or not? It's just misusing them; it's better to help them get better, so they can help you. I tell them [farmers] but they don't have time for us [health workers]."


Theme(s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

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