Saturday, September 23, 2023

Ministry agreed to relieve nurses of medication-dispensing duties in 2010

A long but clearly defined paper trail from 13 years ago shows that the issue of which professional cadre should dispense medication at government health facilities should have been resolved during the administration of President Ian Khama.

Following a marathon three-day meeting between Ministry officials as well as representatives of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Botswana Land Boards & Local Authoritie­s & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), a joint statement that was signed by then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kolaatamo Malefho, and union representatives was released on September 22, 2010. Headlined “Conditions of Service for Nursing Cadre”, the statement says that the parties had agreed to undertake “an exercise of defining nursing duties so that ‘non-nursing’ duties are further clarified” and that “employees are in the interim advised to continue to do all duties which they have hitherto been discharging (prior to September 20, 2010) while avenues for amicable resolution of the issues are being pursued.”

Following this meeting and statement, a Technical Working Team consisting of Ministry officials as well as representatives of the BOPEU and BLLAHWU was established. The team was tasked “to look at the issue of nursing versus non-nursing duties.” On January 24, 2011, Malefho wrote a letter to members of the team inviting them to a meeting with the minister on February 10, 2011. It is unclear what came out of that meeting but a three-year lull was broken by publication of an expert opinion from Nelouise Geyer, the CEO Nursing Education Association in South Africa. Her June 9, 2014 opinion, which has been packaged into a seven-page document, is titled “Opinion on Non-nursing Duties of Nurses.”

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