President Ian Khama this week officially opened the new 260-bed state-of-the-art Mahalapye Hospital that cost P300 million.
Mahalapye District Hospital is one of the four district hospitals that have been recently completed as part of government efforts to improve people’s access to medical care as well as introduce specialist services closer to the community.
This facility, which boasts one of the finest in equipment and machinery in important areas like catering, laundry and boiler house, features new units such as Accident & Emergency, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Biomedical Engineering, which have been introduced to improve the quality of health services currently offered.
President Khama explained that the new hospital will also be used to train young Batswana doctors by providing internships. He said once the Medical School is operational, specialist training in family medicine would be offered, adding that this would improve significantly the quality of patient care services and, consequently, reduce costs emanating from external referrals to specialist service providers.
As part of the new strategy to improve health care, Khama said the government has already started to implement the following initiatives: fast-tracking the establishment of the Health Hub, including the medical school of the University Teaching Hospital; opening up of government health facilities to private health specialist.
“Other projects being implemented are the exemption of medical fees for Bagodi and handicapped as well as the intensification of recruitment of medical doctors and the establishment of village clusters of about five to ten villages with a dedicated doctor,” said Khama.
With regard to the latter initiative, Khama said they believe that once fully operational, it will significantly reduce the waiting period rural dwellers currently endure before a doctor finally gets to visit their clinic. He said the deployment of doctors in village clusters will greatly improve rural communities’ access to medical doctors and also facilitate a smooth ARV roll out programme for the benefit of the affected population.
“I am reliably informed that during this NDP9 period alone, Botswana has spent more than a hundred million Pula in referrals to health facilities within and outside the country for services that cannot be provided in government hospitals,” Khama stated. With the rising cost of medical care worldwide, he said it is anticipated that this will continue to escalate, ultimately reaching unsustainable levels. For those reasons, he explained that it became necessary that all new and upgraded hospitals be designed with the view to providing specialist services and thus minimize on some of this expenditure.
“This is a great development and a long way from where we used to operate, and it has been made possible because of the great visionary leadership in Botswana and the Ministry of Health,” said the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kunal Bose. He said it is going to be their responsibility at the hospital to see to it that this facility is taken good care of whilst delivering quality health service to the people.
According to Bose, Mahalapye Hospital is trying hard to be a performance oriented organization in line with Vision 2016, and is putting a lot of emphasis on customer satisfaction. “Our aim is to provide quality health care to the community, and the vision is to be the best district hospital in the country,” he stressed.
On his part, vice president Mompati Merafhe said to the President: “This project is a clear testimony of your continued commitment not only to the development of this country, but also to your determination to confer dignity and worth on all the countrymen and women.”