Bringing clinical trials to Namibia

01 October 2021 | Mense
Wetutwene Shikage

Owned and managed by Dr Twahafifwa Nambuwa, Petwa Medical Practice plans to break a deadlock in the Namibian health sector.

As part of the Sanlam Bridge winners, after having recognised the great need of having clinical trials in Namibia, the practice conducts research to determine whether a medical treatment or device is safe and effective for humans.

The emergence of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 with unexpected variants and a lot of controversies for the management thereof led to the birth of the clinical trial idea for Namibia.

The practice has seen the challenge faced by the global health sector and called for the intensification of clinical research initiatives and increased the need to have clinical research centres. This is initiated by the occurrence of some new variants.

Petwa Medical Practice thus provides a chance for qualifying individuals to safely participate in trials for vaccines and medications that may lead to more effective, life-enhancing medical treatments.

All studies conducted are approved by the ministry of health and the relevant ethics committees before commencement and are conducted in accordance to good clinical practice guidelines. Many countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, have facilities for clinical trial research. Namibia has none, although policies in this regard date back to the 1990s.

Starting off

The owner of Petwa Medical Practice, Dr Nambuwa, obtained her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Pretoria in 2015. She also holds a Certificate in Good Clinical Practice from the University of Witwatersrand in 2019. She worked at Katutura Intermediate Hospital as a casualty officer after her internship programme and has been a general practitioner in private practice for three years. Notwithstanding the challenge of logistics, Petwa Medical Practice commenced in 2020.

Dr Nambuwa established Petwa Foundation as a passion project in 2020. The project was registered in May 2021 in terms of section 19 of the National Welfare Act of 1965 and this will soon become Petwa Medical Practice’s corporate social responsibility arm. The foundation aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, provide health services through primary healthcare outreach programmes, and provide financial assistance for disadvantaged communities.

Giving to the community

One project assisted by the practice is building a kitchen at the Children Life Change Centre in Okuryangava. Dr Nambuwa has been a patron of the centre for three years. The kitchen was started this year in partnership with Bornfree Shipping.

Ombuumbu Kindergarten at Ruacana also approached the foundation for assistance. Seeing the desperate need for a permanent classroom with water and electricity, a school development fund as well as a school feeding programme, the foundation raised funds for the initiative.

“The foundation aims to give power to these unheard little voices and give them a stepping stone. It takes a village and love to raise a child and we hope by giving this love, it will always be reflected in their lives,” Dr Nambuwa said.

She added that the foundation has hosted two primary healthcare outreach programmes, at Hakahana Community Hall in Windhoek and the Five Rand and Oshetu settlements at Okahandja.

“As a result of Covid-19 there was a lack of space at the main hospitals and it became increasingly easy to overlook other medical conditions, fuelled by the fear of seeking medical assistance. This led us to call for the sensitisation of the public, especially targeting the disadvantaged communities, to be proactive in their health by coming for screening and consultation at our mobile outreach programmes,” Dr Nambuwa said.



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