Population Growth In Namibia Putting Strain On Health And Social Care

Population Growth In Namibia Putting Strain On Health And Social Care

Population Growth In Namibia Putting Strain On Health And Social Care

Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, this week outlined government plans to meet the country’s evolving health and social needs amid continued population growth.

Population growth in Namibia is proving a critical issue for the southwest African country. Numbers have surged from 2,113,077 in 2011 to 3,022,401 in 2023, according to a 2023 Population and Housing Census released in March 2024. That equates to a 43% population increase in just 12 years, posing a significant challenge for health service delivery.

“This increase in population size has implications on the delivery of health and social services, as most of our health infrastructure was established when the population was 1.4 million. As the population size increases, so does the health and social needs,” Kalumbi Shangula said in a statement.

Shangula announced that the ministry is allocating 10.9 billion Namibia dollars (about 584 million US dollars) for the 2024/2025 financial year, with a significant portion dedicated to operational expenditure and infrastructure development. This includes the construction, maintenance and modernisation of health facilities across the country.

Shangula added: “More than 85 per cent of the Namibian population depend on public health and social services provided through hospitals and other health facilities managed by the ministry.”

He quantified Namibia’s current healthcare infrastructure as including 322 clinics, 56 health centres, 34 district hospitals, four intermediate hospitals, and one national referral hospital. The rate of the country’s population growth, however, means that capacity to deliver good healthcare services has fallen way behind what is needed.

The proposed investment is urgently required, with planned key projects and initiatives to include the expansion and construction of Intensive Care Units, upgrading dialysis units at seven hospitals, improvements in medical oxygen infrastructure, and various renovations and maintenance works to ensure the quality and readiness of health facilities across the country.

As well as Namibia’s health and social care challenges, the country is also experiencing a high food deficit, in particular a shortage of staple cereal crops such as maize and pearl millet, which will need to be imported if demand is to be met.

At the time of writing, the fertility rate in Namibia (average number of births per mother) is currently at 3.16.

Population growth in Namibia putting strain on health and social care
Namibia has seen a 43% population increase in the 12 year period to 2023, posing a significant challenge for health service delivery across the country.

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