President Ian Khama has donated blankets to various communities and elders over the past term and a half than all his predecessors combined. This is a very commendable act of generosity because we owe this higher duty by virtue of being a caring and compassionate nation.
However, I dream of having a conversation with His Excellency and delve deeper into the matter. I desire to politely convince him to also look at other vulnerable members of the community. Although he seems to have a soft spot for the elderly, which is perfectly acceptable, I would advise His Excellency to be mindful of the fact that there are patients dying in hospitals from the harsh cold weather. Such deaths could easily be avoided if His Excellency could chip in and assist such disadvantaged members than solely focusing on elders.
I gave birth to my first son eight years ago at Gaborone Private Hospital in July, one of the coldest months of the year. Although the hospital does not offer its patients heavy furry blankets, there is sufficient heating at the hospital to protect patients from the elements.
This was not the case when I gave birth to my second born last year at Princess Marina Hospital. I got to experience firsthand what it is like to be in a hospital that is short of blankets and heating which gave me a taste of both worlds I suppose.
An assessment of these two hospitals reveals that there are some basic human needs which could be solved only if my dream to have a heart-to-heart talk with the President comes to pass. Although I gave birth mid September, i needed warm blankets as it was not warm enough for me and my new born. This made me to contemplate about women give birth in the middle of winter. There are fortunate women like myself who had the privilege of having someone from home bringing the much needed blanket during my stay. On the other hand, other ladies I was in the ward with did not have such a privilege.
I will always fondly remember my grandmother for her sensitivity toward nursing mothers. She taught us that since babies are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults, they can quickly develop a dangerously low body temperature which doctors refer to hypothermia.
“Newborn infants are prone to hypothermia because of their large body surface area, small amount of fatty tissue lying directly under the skin, and decreased ability to shiver,” said Pediatrician at Princess Marina Hospital Dr Badani Moreri. She said people generally respond to cold extremes by shivering, developing goose bumps, and experiencing lethargy and a slow heart rate. Eventually the shivering ends, and disorientation and lack of responsiveness occur. Severe hypothermia can also result in an abnormal beating of the heart. “A new born baby therefore is the most vulnerable and extreme cold weather can easily take their live,” she says.
If my dream of having a one on one conversation with the President were realised, I would ask him to make rounds at Botswana’s public hospitals. Perhaps, His Excellency might also realise the dire need that nursing mothers find themselves in.