HEALTH minister Kalumbi Shangula says he does not know whether Namibia has any capability to perform angiography in the public health sector.
According to the website Mayfield Clinic, angiography is a medical imaging diagnostic test used to visualise the inside of blood vessels and organs of the body, with particular interest in the arteries, veins, and the heart chambers. It uses X-rays to take pictures of a patient's blood vessels.
Shangula said it was not brought to his attention whether public hospitals are running low or had no catheters and other equipment used to assist patients with heart problems.
Shangula was responding to questions by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani who claimed in the National Assembly on Wednesday, that public hospitals are not in a position to assist patients with various heart problems because they do not have the facilities and equipment to perform such diagnostic tests.
According to him such patients, are normally sent back home or left to succumb to their ailments.
Venaani asked the minister what the government was doing to solve this problem.
"I am told that senior health professionals are incapable of offering any help to heart patients because there is just no equipment. There are no dialyses centres," he said.
"It has not been brought to my attention," Shangula said.
The minister, however, said the health service in Namibia was well "intact" and that if hospitals were incapable of assisting heart patients, "we would be having mass burials in the country".
"We must understand that the patients, especially those of advanced age are in most cases presented with irreversible conditions. But I can tell you that the government pays for that service in the private sector. So, there would be no patient who will not have access to the service because it is not available in the public sector," he said.
He did not reveal how much the government is paying to procure such services in the private health sector.
The minister also refuted claims by Venaani that state hospitals are reluctant to assist aging patients.
Venaani claimed that it is normal practice in state hospitals that when a patient is over the age of 70 and they are looking for placement on the Intensive Care Unit bed, they will not be helped ahead of young people, because of their advanced age.
"They would rather give that bed to somebody younger and you die. That argument cannot be made by a government that is caring for its people," Venaani stressed.
The minister rejected these claims as untrue.
He said: "Any patient who needs a particular service will be able to get it in the private sector. We procure that service in the private facilities if it is available. No patient will be left without services which he or she needs".