Growing up in Onayena village in the Oshikoto region watching elders handle primary health issues with a level of proficiency that eludes modern science, Tangeni Angula is the most down-to-earth and unfiltered political spouse Namibia has ever produced.
In fact, it was only after sitting down with her that TF discovers that she is the wife of one of Namibia’s most prominent political personalities, Nahas Angula and has for over four decades played her role in his life much more subdued. When she got a flu, her parents didn’t scramble to rush her to the closest hospital. They knew exactly what to do. They treated minor ailments with natural herbs found in the local surroundings.
Eye infections were treated with aloe juice, food poisoning with “etanguthi” (Kleinia longiflora), coughs and common flu with “omulimbalimba” (Aptosimum procumbens) and she wondered how they knew what was in those plants, and this curiosity unknowingly sparked a flame in her for the love of health and medicine. So, during the liberation struggle, she had spent 18 months teaching at the Namibian Education Centre outside Lusaka and when
she was presented with an opportunity to study in the UK, she chose Pharmacy. She chose this field as a career expecting to contribute to the availability of medicines, especially those from natural resources, just like she had learned at home.
Today, Angula is the Managing Pharmacist of Beulah Pharmacy following further studies in the USA where she obtained a B. Sc. Degree in pharmacy as well as M. Sc. in industrial pharmacy. Beulah Pharmacy was registered with the Pharmacy Council in December 2011 and was fully operational from March 2012.It started as a community pharmacy serving patients in Windhoek, but mostly, those being treated at Windhoek Emergency Care and Trauma Centre (WECTC) and the surrounding communities.
Beulah Pharmacy distributes doctors’ prescription medicines to patients as well as pharmacist-initiated treatments. They do blood pressure and glucose monitoring, as well as providing family planning advice. They also do counselling for those with specific problems, referring them to general medical practitioners as need arises.
Her dream about pharmacy was that of impacting availability of medicines through participation in research and developmental activities (R&D). “After my pharmacy internship at various institutions of the Ministry of Health in Zambia, including a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, I came to realise that R&D in this field was a high cost activity that required collaboration at high levels in terms of availability of human, capital as well as other resources. On the other hand, ‘the need for medicine now’ is to always address the urgent health problems. Besides, with the size of our population and availability of ready packaged medicines, extensive local manufacturing of medicine and R&D thereof could only become a reality if addressed through regional collaboration,” she narrates.
At the beginning, it was quite difficult to assess the needs of her patients. However, as the time passed and disease profiles were fairly known, it became a matter of forecasting what to buy and when to have it available. In all this, in learning the balance of her love of medicine and curing ailments and the challenges of business, she has struck a perfect balance. “Consistency is relatively easy to maintain in a well-regulated profession like this of pharmacy.
However, at the moment the entire health regulatory environment in the country experiences a vacuum, caused by absence of health professions councils. This is a potentially dangerous situation since it could cause careless and unqualified persons to practice where they are not supposed to – since there is no legal body that has the authority to regulate them,” Angula says.
She employs three currently, a pharmacist and two front shop assistants. She sees Beulah Pharmacy as a place that will play an important training role in addition to rendering community pharmaceutical services. She already trains students from the UNAM School of Pharmacy who wish to gain experience
before they graduate as she believes there is a challenge of a shortage of pharmacists.
Angula remains linked to her roots. She starts off her day with a prayer for dedication of her patients and staff to God’s protection and provision. “Without this routine, I do not know how I would have escaped the financial challenges that have continued to threaten viability of private health care providers in the whole country,” she says.