Botswana: More Workers Vital for Health Education

Mahalapye — The Ministry of Health and Wellness has set a target of 3 000 health care workers across the country in an effort to intesify health education.

Minister Dr Alfred Madigele explained during a tour of the recently refurbished Mahalapye Primary Hospital, that this was because the ministry considered education a primary tool in dispensing its services.

He said increasing the number of community health workers would help in intensifying health education.

Government, he said, was choking with increasing cases of non-communicable diseases some of which could have been avoided by educating the public.

"As we empower the district, we must also increase our visibility through community health workers moving around educating the general public. Using community health education approach will improve health outcomes as you are aware that we are struggling with non-communicable diseases," he said.

Dr Madigele pointed out that universal health coverage was one of the key issues for ministry.

He said within the ongoing process of restructuring the health sector, decentralisation to fully empower the districts and communities was a pertinent issue.

As part of the decentralisation process, Dr Madigele said the ministry planned to establish 28 regional health authorities (DHMTs) which would be empowered in terms of staffing and funding.

DHMT heads would be at the level of directors with the authority to take decisions thereby reducing bureaucracy in service delivery, he said.

On supply chain management, Dr Madigele said the ministry was inundated with complaints of shortage of medication and consumables.

The state of affairs was worsened by the fact that Central Medical Stores (CMS) was currently the sole supplier of drugs, he said.

In addition, he said, bureaucracy in purchasing contributed to delays. Dr Madigele said the ministry had developed a system for monitoring movement of items from CMS to various health facilities.

In an effort to improve human resource, especially on specialists' cadres, Dr Madigele said private gynaecologists would be given tenders to use government health facilities with the arrangement being rolled out to other areas in future.

To address the high cost of referrals to South Africa, he said local facilities would be capacitated to perform some of the procedures currently done outside the country. Upgrading Letsholathebe Memorial, Mahalapye District Hospital, Sekgoma and Scottish Livingstone hospitals into referral facilities would cater for the development, he said.

On other health developments, Dr Madigele said the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was expected to be ready by April with the first patient expected to walk in on April 24.

He however said the hospital would be commissioned in phases. "It is a private hospital where patients will be expected to pay for health services, government will only cover referrals," he said.

On staff welfare matters and customer service, Dr Madigele appealed to health practitioners to improve service delivery.He said it was unfortunate that some workers engaged in social media during working hours while patients waited in long queues. "I believe there is need for mentorship and serious introspection as our human resource is getting younger and younger," he said.

Meanwhile Mahalapye District Hospital superintendent, Dr Maxwell Mungisi said their area of coverage comprised 46 health facilities including five clinics with a maternity wing.

Dr Mungisi said an average of 260 babies were delivered monthly at the sub district health facilities.

Although the sub district was currently fairly staffed, it was in need of critical specialists such as gynaecologists.

Dr Mungisi said the refurbished primary hospital had 95 beds and would operate on a 24-hour basis.

"We will start running the facility after organising the human resource and other logistics. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has approved 50 positions for the facility and so far we had received 34. We have 20 registered nurses to work at the health facility, even though an adequate number is 22.

We need 16 midwives and 40 support staff but had not received any," he said.

Dr Mungisi informed the minister that the community and the village leadership had long waited for the facility to be back in operation. He further stated that the hospital was refurbished in part and that medical equipment had to be prioritised for the facility to function.

"We are hoping to open the facility in a gradual mode, it will not be fully functional at a go, " he said.

Source : BOPA

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