Government has candidly admitted being hit by a shortage of healthcare professionals.
Appearing before Parliamentary Account Committee (PAC), Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Kabelo Ebineng said shortage of manpower in the health facilities continues to impact negatively on service provision and this is worsened by high staff turnover.
He added that scarcity of specialists is still a challenge, resulting in increased referral costs both locally and to other countries especially South Africa and long waiting periods for specialist services.
“As a mitigating factor, we outsource services that are not available in its hospitals to the private sector in an effort to improve accessibility,” said Ebineng.
He further stated that in order to increase the number of specialists in their facilities, a total of one hundred and eighty (180) in-service professionals were pursuing further studies on various disciplines as at 2019/20 financial year.
He added that they remain committed to establish the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital as a medical hub and centre.
The plan is to procure appropriate medical equipment as well as to provide specialized services in areas such as cardiac surgery, organ transplant within the country.
Ebineng revealed that poor record management continues to be a concern for the Ministry as evidenced by the slow movement of cases resolved, particularly relating to previous years as far back as 2013/2014 financial year).
He said the other consequence of poor record keeping is lack of progress on matters referred to Attorney General’s Chambers due to insufficient documentation to support our claims.
“The Ministry has, in recognition of the need for trained personnel, provided for four Diploma and two certificates in Archive and Records management slots in the 2018/19 training plan and released the staff. Furthermore, positions will be rationalized to ensure that each region has a qualified records management personnel to guide in proper record keeping and safe custody of the same.,” he said.
He spoke of the ministry appreciating that the improvement is not enough as there is still below target availability of medicines both at Central Medical Stores (CMS) and facility level and an outcry for medicines across the country. He is of the view that the main challenges have been shortage of manpower both at CMS and facilities, insufficient quality assurance at facilities level, poor data collection and quantification
He is of the view that the Ministry has implored a number of initiatives aimed at improving visibility of medicines at local level; facilities continue to benefit from micro procurement while awaiting supply through CMS major orders. He added that five district warehouses are currently being refurbished for compliance with e-Pulse (e-Logistic Management Information System) requirements with the aim of having installed the system at these warehouses by June 2020.