from ALFRED SHILONGO in Windhoek, Namibia
WINDHOEK, (CAJ News) – ALLEGED discrimination against the Indigenous San people in Namibia is denying these minorities access to healthcare and exposing them to deadly diseases.
Human rights groups report that such ailments include tuberculosis (TB) and its multi-drug resistant strain, which is ravaging allegedly neglected communities in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.
“For years, Namibian authorities have ignored the healthcare needs of the San people including those battling tuberculosis, leaving them at the risk of death,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
“It’s time the authorities stopped neglecting the San people, recognized their right to health and ensured access to healthcare like any other people in Namibia.”
Amnesty’s concerns are carried in a report titled, “We don’t feel well treated: Tuberculosis and the Indigenous San people of Namibia.”
The report documents alleged widespread discrimination against the San people at healthcare centres where they are reportedly subjected to verbal and physical abuse as well as denial of treatment.
Higher rates of poverty mean many communities struggle to buy medicine or pay for transport to distant health facilities for treatment.
Living in remote rural areas, San people often face an arduous journey to get to the nearest hospital or clinic which can be up to 80km away, with poor road networks.
Authorities do not have alternatives put in place, such as mobile health clinics and services.
“As a result, thousands of San people are falling through the cracks,” Muchena said.
When they are available, primary healthcare facilities are reportedly under-staffed, under-equipped and lack sufficient medical supplies to adequately treat patients.
Namibia carries one of the highest burdens of TB, and the multi-drug resistant strain of the disease in the world.
Studies indicate that the burden of TB among the hunter-gatherer San people is almost 40 percent higher than the national average.
A 2020 study established the Southern African country has a rate of 442 cases per 100 000 people. It is ranked fifth among countries with highest burden of TB.
– CAJ News