WINDHOEK: The example set by late President Hage Geingob, who made his health status public, serves to encourage Namibians to seek healthcare on time, which may lead to early detection of illness and treatment. Before his untimely death on 04 February 2024, the late president announced on 24 January that cancerous cells were detected in his body following a biopsy. This, according to Executive Director of the Health and Social Services Ministry, Ben Nangombe, demonstrates that Geingob was a champion of the wellbeing of the Namibian people. 'He led by example; as we remember, he was not shy about promoting the importance of how Namibians must seek healthcare on time so that if there are ailments in their bodies, they are detected early. And he was courageous enough to share the status of his health condition with the Namibian people,' Nangombe said in an interview with Nampa. By making his diagnosis public, Nangombe said it underscores Geingob's selflessness, as he encouraged others to get diagnosed early because prevention is better than cure. 'We commend him for that; that is the enduring and indelible legacy that President Geingob leaves behind. It is a great contribution to public health not only in Namibia but also in Africa and on a global scale,' said Nangombe. The former president's declaration of his health status and his subsequent trip for cancer treatment overseas prompted calls to strengthen public health institutions to improve access to healthcare. Nangombe stated that the Health Ministry has begun implementing recommendations in the Health Systems Strengthening Report, which was approved by Geingob's Cabinet. President Geingob launched the comprehensive five-year plan worth N.dollars 16 billion in November 2023 to enhance the country's public health system. As part of the implementation process, which is done in phases, Nangombe said the ministry has started with the construction of the 500-bed Windhoek district hospital. The plan that was conducted in 2022 considered the availability of human resources, pharmaceutical and clinical supplies, medical equipment, and the general administration of the public healthcare system. In 2018, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila launched the national strategy on non-communicable diseases, which informed the ministry how to deal with diseases like cancer and hypertension, while it also seeks to raise awareness by encouraging Namibians to go for early testing. He said the oncology centre at the Windhoek Central Hospital has state-of-the-art equipment, such as a computed tomography scanner, to detect cancer and can be used to set up a treatment plan for the patients. In addition, the ministry has ordered a new Cobalt-60 from Canada to be installed in the chemotherapy section next month. The machine used for radiation therapy will replace the older one that has reached its lifespan. 'The example set by President Geingob in terms of the importance of early detection has been tremendous. It encourages others to find the courage and strength to get te sted so that they can be treated,' said Nangombe. The technologies are available to the Namibian people free of charge. 'Even where we have to refer State patients to private health facilities, the State carries the cost. So it is up to the people to come forward and get tested,' Nangombe added. Source: The Namibia Press Agency