The Minister of Health Dorcas Makgato has said the high nurse turnover remains a major problem for the health sector. Makgato said this when officially opening the first bi-annual Botswana International Nurses Conference held at Fairgrounds Holdings this past week. “Our country is facing a shortage of trained and qualified health personnel which is also over stretched by additional programmes related to HIV/AIDS,” the minister said. She said other challenges included high staff inequitable deployment and failure to optimise the existing skill mix. “I will be the first to admit that nurses have an immense responsibility and are at times forced to work under strenuous conditions,” Makgato said. “We recognise Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) as a representative of nurses in Botswana and we have always reiterated our commitment to ensuring that nurses’ concerns and grievances are addressed within reasonable limits.”
She said the government was doing all it can to ensure that health workers are adequately capacitated and resourced to deal with the country’s challenging health needs.
She also touched on the issue of evidence based and informed nursing practice and said the world over the health sector is going the direction of evidence-based practice. “Times have indeed changed and there is need for us to redesign care that is effective, safe, and efficient,” Makgato said, adding, “Through research, we will be able to ensure quality services and improve our patient’s health status into desired outcomes.”
She said as the demand for research and evidence based practice heightens, so does the need for Botswana to tailor make its education programs such that health care workers are able to provide the highest quality and safest health care possible. She said the government must continuously avail to its health care workers professional development programs through which they will update their skills and expertise. “It’s time to emphasise on quality and safety, evidence-based practice, research and leadership,” she said adding, “They say certification and continuous learning opportunities are essential to a profession that’s responsible for others’ lives.” The minister said health care workers must embrace technology, foster inter-professional collaboration and develop leadership skills.
Speaking at the closing ceremony for the three day conference, Assistant Minister of Health, Alfred Madigele, also highlighted the challenges faced by nurses in the country. “In the face of all these challenges,” he said, “Botswana’s Ministry of Health (MoH), as the principal custodian of the health sector, has taken it upon itself to ensure that all citizens are provided with quality affordable health care. Through the Integrated Health Service Plan (IHSP), government has committed to improving health care services by continuously upgrading and equipping health facilities and improving supply chain management systems to ensure adequate and reliable supply of drugs.” He said as MoH they have a vision to provide an enabling environment in which all people living in Botswana will be able to achieve and maintain the highest level of health and well-being. He said the government would ensure that patients receive satisfaction from the health services by ensuring efficient and responsive twenty-four hour access to its facilities.
Secretary General of BONU, Ruth Mokgethi, described the conference as richer, livelier and informative. “We definitely learnt a lot during this conference and we came up with strong recommendations that we must embrace, carry forward and implement.” Mokgethi said they look forward to initiating long term structures that will address the recommendations that the conference came up with.