Thursday, June 4, 2020

Health Ministry ails with shortage of nurses

BY CEDRIC SWANKA

The Minister of Health and Wellness has told Parliament that there is a shortage of health care professionals and support staff in Botswana.

As if that was not enough, Government does not provide security services to medical facilities such as clinics as they are outsourced to the private sector.

“My ministry is aware that most of the clinics are without sufficient nurses and support staff. This situation is compounded by limited positions for recruitment of staff. Furthermore part of the services offered by support staff including security, cleaning and catering is gradually outsourced to the private sector” Junior Minister of Health and Wellness Setlhomo Lelatisitswe told parliament this past week.

“The health care system is constrained by shortage of staff especially doctors, limited work space, transport and maintenance of health facilities. It has been the plan of my ministry to have resident doctors in all 24 hour clinics. However due to shortage of doctors it is not possible to allocate doctors to all of these facilities. Furthermore out of 8 twenty four hour clinics in Gaborone only 5 have resident doctors except for the 3 clinics being; Lesirane, Old naledi and Broadhurst 3 clinic.” Lelatisitswe continued.

Lelatisitswe shared with Parliament the strategies deployed to address the issues. “To alleviate the shortage of staff my Ministry has been permanently employing newly qualified nurses from the training institutions and retired midwives on contract basis” he said.

With regard to the support staff, we have been engaging officers on temporary basis. My ministry has put measures in place to have coverage to clinics without resident doctors after 1630, during weekend and holidays.”

Following attacks on health workers at Extension 2 clinic in Gaborone, Junior Minister Lelatisitswe shared that “several security measures were put in place to address the security of health care officials in clinics and these include, the lights around the clinic and flood lights were installed, trees and hedges were cut or trimmed to clearer visibility around facilities.

Also burglar doors were installed, fences were fixed, a backup generator was maintained and security companies were engaged for improved supervision. Security guards or night watchmen services were strengthened as well.”

Member of Parliament Haskins Nkaigwa had brought questions to parliament, to ask the Minister of health and wellness, among them being; to state the current status of our health care system, if the minister is aware that most clinics are without sufficient nurses and support staff and what is being done to address the shortage of staff in clinics.

The Assistant Minister revealed that the health care system indicates good access to health services.

“The current status of the health care system indicates good access to health services with more than 80 percent of the population living within 5 kilometres to the nearest health facility.

There is currently a plan to increase access to medical services by placing residential doctors in one of the clinics to cover a cluster of health facilities. Currently more than 60 percent of clusters have residential doctors. Additionally all clinics operating 24hours have residential doctors.”

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