Public healthcare in Namibia is provided by the private sector and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, which is also responsible for the regulation of healthcare services and professions.
Namibia’s private healthcare sector provides the full spectrum of medical services of world-class standards for those with medical insurance and higher income groups. Services range from dentistry, optometry and radiology to specialised medical care in various fields.
Several private hospitals, day theatres and clinics in Windhoek are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and provide a wide range of services, including general and specialised surgery. There are also well-equipped private hospitals in most large towns throughout the country, including in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Ongwediva, Ondangwa, Rundu and Katima Mulilo.
Registered medical practitioners provide a comprehensive range of general and specialised services. Private clinics, health centres and well-stocked pharmacies are located in various towns countrywide.
The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NamBTS), an autonomous body, is responsible for the collection, testing and supply of blood products in the country. The NamBTS headquarters, laboratory and main testing facility is in Windhoek. It also has two donation sites in Windhoek and one each in Swakopmund, Ondangwa, Walvis Bay and Oshakati. Blood donation clinics are held on a regular basis at various locations throughout the country.
The Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) is a non-governmental organisation and a registered welfare organisation with its headquarters in Windhoek. The association aims to create awareness of and educate people on cancer, provide support services to effectively screen for cancer and support cancer patients. CAN relies on fundraisers, donations, projects for fundraising and a medical business model that allows access to quality screening and accommodation services for cancer, while generating funds to sustain operations.
The health sector is governed by a number of statutory bodies to ensure compliance with the highest international standards and the professional conduct of health professionals.
The Health Professions Councils of Namibia (HPCNA) consists of five statutory bodies whose functions include, amongst others, the registration of medical practitioners. These are:
- Medical and Dental Council
- Pharmacy Council
- Nursing Council
- Social Work and Psychology Council
- Allied Health Professions Council
The HPCNA’s objectives include determining and upholding education and training standards, setting, maintaining and promoting a good standard of professional practice and conduct, and keeping the registers of each health profession for which provision is made in terms of the relevant acts. The council also advises the Minister of Health and Social Services on matters in the relevant acts.
The Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) is a statutory body which is responsible for the registration and authorisation of the distribution, sales and use of medicines for humans and animals in Namibia. The council’s mission is “to ensure safe, efficacious, quality medicines, related substances and medical devices for human and animal use in accordance with recognised international standards and facilitate their availability, accessibility and affordability”.
The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) is responsible for the financial soundness of ten medical aid funds registered with the authority. It also undertakes the registration of medical aid fund rules and monitors compliance with prudential investment guidelines.
There are more than 430 public health facilities, including 27 hospitals, providing services to patients that do not have health insurance. Windhoek Central Hospital is the national referral hospital, while Katutura Hospital (also in the capital), Rundu in the Kavango East Region, and Onandjokwe and Oshakati in north-central Namibia are intermediate hospitals. People living in remote rural areas have access to health services at over 280 clinics and mobile clinics countrywide.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services received the second highest appropriation in the 2023/24 financial year. An amount of N$9.4 billion was provided for operational expenses and N$298 million for capital projects – an increase of 49% on the 2022/23 capital projects appropriation.
Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi said in his 2023/24 budget motivation speech that N$700 million has been set aside for investments in and the renovations of health facilities, the recruitment of medical personnel and to purchase pharmaceuticals and ambulances.
Namibia received an award in March 2023 in recognition of the remarkable progress towards reaching the targets of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and its efforts towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The award was conferred by the US Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, John Nkengasong.
In his reaction to the award, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said Namibia had achieved 92-99-94 of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target. The 95s refer to the percentage of people who (1) are familiar with their HIV status and, of those who know it, (2) are receiving antiretroviral therapy and (3) have a depressed viral load. He expressed confidence that Namibia is close to achieving the first and third 95 targets soon.
Minister Shangula said that, according to a January 2023 report, a total of 215,348 Namibians are living with HIV and an estimated 7,193 children under the age of 15 live with HIV. He went on to say, “The number of HIV infections is disproportionately high among females compared to their male counterparts. The prevalence is high among women at 15.1% compared to 8.4% in men.”
The minister also announced that the ministry has completed the review of the National Strategic Framework (NSF) for HIV/AIDS and that a new NSF for 2023/2024 to 2027/2028 has been finalised and would be launched soon.
The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has committed an amount of N$1.6 billion towards Namibia’s HIV prevention, care and treatment for 2023.
The announcement was made at the 20th anniversary celebrations of PEPFAR in Windhoek in June 2023. Speaking at the occasion, the US Global Aids Coordinator, Ambassador John Nkengasong, said PEPFAR has invested over N$27 billion in Namibia since its inception in 2003.
PEPFAR was announced during American President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address and authorised by Congress in the same year through the Leadership Act. It focusses on support for HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as care and treatment programmes in developing countries.
Catholic AIDS Action
P O Box 159, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 276 350
Drug Action Group
P O Box 20490, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 226 706
P O Box 11822, Klein Windhoek
ICRC – International Committee of Red Cross
P O Box 3970
Tel: +264 61 470 2440
MAN – Medical Association of Namibia
P O Box 3369, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 224 455
*For medical associations, contact MAN
Health Industry Forum Namibia
Tel: +264 61 375 090
*For medical associations, contact HIFN
NAMAF – Namibia Association of Medical Aid Funds
P O Box 11974, Klein Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 257 211
Namibia Network of Aids Services Organisations
P O Box 23281, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 261 122
Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP)
P O Box 277, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 295 4000