Maun residents have been unsettled by a recent diarrhea outbreak in the village and surrounding areas. Fear is also mounting, now that the biggest district health facility, Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital and most of its subordinate clinics have for some time now faced drug shortage, a situation that has led to patients being sent out to look for medication at local pharmacies. Things took a head during a full council meeting in the past week as North West District Councilors (NWDC) took turns to stage attacks at the hospital management for what they termed a failure to make bold decisions at ensuring that drugs are availed to patients.
They were also blamed for sitting on their laurels while scores of people are suffering out there. Earlier on, NWDC Chairman Latlhang Molonda had told the gathering that since the declaration of the outbreak in August this year, five children have already died. In an endeavor to control the outbreak, he said the public has been urged to observe basic hygiene standards. He said mothers and other care givers should on the other hand take children suspected to have diarrhea to the nearest health facility for treatment, because delaying treatment is on its own very dangerous as it is responsible for dehydration, which is the main cause of death. Councilor Pelokgale Monyame said at the meeting that despite the fact that hospitals have been allocated funds countrywide to purchase drugs, that has not been the case in Ngamiland.
He said patients usually travel for various ailments or regular checkups from as far away as Shakawe, Mohembo and other areas in the district, only to be turned away after they would have made consultations with doctors, all because there would be no drugs available. He said while it is understandable that supplies come from the Central Medical Stores in Gaborone, the local should always take charge, if for any reason they are not able to make supplies, taking into consideration that not all people have means to purchase medication on their own.
“You need to take responsibility to rescue people. And people need not be sent from one facility to the other looking for medication while you (DHT) should be doing that. We all understand that the Ministry of Health policies that compel you to make provisions on behalf of patients. Should drugs not be available from where patients would have consulted, then take it upon yourselves to phone around and check with other clinics, instead of patients having to spend excessively on transport fares as it is the case now.
You also need to have a computerized database of all drugs, so that you know where to go whenever there is need”, advised Monyame. Meanwhile DHT head, Dr Christopher Chembe told councilors that in the meantime the hospital has a shortage of fleet, which makes it difficult to travel from one point to the other. He said currently thirty five of their seventy vehicles have been grounded at Maun CTO and have not been attended to in a long time, thus halting service delivery.
“However I want to assure you today that all will fall in place and we will make sure that we find other means of availing drugs, even if it means purchasing from pharmacies here or elsewhere. We are also going to make sure that it is not just in paper, but enforced also. I will talk to other facilities and make sure they practice the same thing, and so I humbly apologize that it wasn’t complied to. I promise we will do all things possible to try and make the lives of our clients as smooth as possible”, he said. Chembe went on to say at the moment also, the hospital has a lot of problems with computerization. He said it is just the hospital and a few local clinics which have been computerized, which therefore complicates regular database keeping.