Construction of the new Serowe District Hospital in Serowe has been met with glee in the most unlikely place, Francistown. To most Francistowners the new hospital would help reduce congestion at Nyangabgwe and improve provision of health services in Francistown.
As one of the only two referral hospitals in Botswana after Princess Marina, Nyangabgwe caters for all referrals from the Central to as far as Chobe District and the strain is now telling on the hospital with staff morale running low and machinery like incinerators repeatedly crashing.
Sources at Nyangabgwe Hospital have revealed that the situation is so bad that staff morale is at its lowest.
”Patients sleep on the floor, ablutions hygiene is sub standard and patient care has plummeted to an all time low.” they said.
The exodus of medical staff from Botswana to seek greener pastures abroad is not helping the situation, and in the face of the HIV Aids scourge nurses and doctors overworked.
They also revealed that there is a shortage of specialised personnel and most basic medical duties have been relegated to unqualified support staff.
“The lives of people are in danger as nurses who are not midwives administer births while those who are not surgeons administer routine surgeries.” they said. This shortage of staff and qualified personnel has led to unnecessary deaths as patients can stay up to three days without being attended to by a doctor.
Commenting on the issue, Dr Lowell Chansa, acting Hospital Superintendent confirmed that indeed there was a serious problem of staff shortage at Nyangabgwe Hospital. He said that the shortage was not only for doctors and nurses but cuts across the board.
Chansa said that they are still awaiting the MoH to assign additional staff.
Asked to comment on the impact of staff shortage on morale Chansa said that medical personnel by, nature of their profession, always work extra hours adding that the situation not as bad as people might want to believe.
A high ranking official at the Department of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health told The Sunday Standard that they are embarking on a two-and-half year project to refurbish the hospital, add a new surgical wing and building staff houses in the hospital compound.
The official also told The Sunday Standard that the new Serowe Hospital was built at a cost of close to P300 million and is expected to be completed by March next year.
“The existing 150 bed hospital is expected to move to the new hospital and, though no concrete decision has been made as to what will become of the old building it will probably be turned into a clinic,” he said.
The official also revealed that the MoH has a tertiary health care system which categorises the provision of health systems in Botswana. He said that the system includes a district health team, a primary hospital, a district hospital under which the Serowe hospital falls, and the referral hospital which includes Princess Marina and Nyangabgwe hospitals.
The official revealed that the tertiary health care system has not been fully and effectively functional a situation which has led to the congestion in referral hospitals.
According to the official there are seven district hospitals in Botswana amongst them the Maun hospital, Scottish Livingstone hospital and Serowe hospital. The MoH is currently on a project to upgrade all these hospitals so as to resuscitate the tertiary health care system.
Maun hospital is currently under construction and will also be completed in early 2008.
But The Sunday Standard has unraveled a lot of hiccups in the construction of these hospitals. The Maun hospital project which will cost government P254 million is currently behind schedule as Kentz, the subcontractors who were doing the mechanical and electrical part of the project was liquidated.
Sharps electrical and IMS Pipe Works and Services have since been appointed to do the job and the project is proceeding. But the appointment of the new subcontractors has cost the government an additional P98 million.
On top of the latest equipment and technology which includes the thermal energy storage system, the new Maun hospital will have 270 beds as compared to the 151 that are in the present one.
“These hospitals will be much better that the present referral hospitals as they will have the latest equipment,” said the official.