Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Parliament at loggerheads over delinking of health sector

The Public health sector cannot be left in the hands of the private sector as the institution is too sensitive for the government to undertake such a risk.

Responding to a motion raised by opposition BCP Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, on Friday, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale acknowledged the importance of delinking health workers from the civil service as suggested by the legislator, but said the health sector alongside Education and Agriculture are sensitive institutions to be left in the hands of a body not accountable to the public.

“They are nerve plexuses of the operations of the public sector because of their sensitivity. As a result, delinking the health workers from the civil service will not augur well with our government,” Molale said.

BCP MP for Selebi-Phikwe West Dithapelo pleaded with the legislators to support his motion which called for the delinking of health workers from the civil service, insisting the country could make remarkable achievements under an Independent Commission responsible and answerable to the government.

The legislator cited the Botswana Defence Force health arm which is successfully conducting independent operations outside government interventions despite being answerable to the same government.
Sophisticated and highly developed countries such as the United Kingdom have also delinked their health workers from the civil service.

Molale was however not convinced, insisting the matter was still with the Bargaining Council. “We are 5 years into this Act and already we have identified some amendments due for discussion the coming Winter session,” the former Permanent Secretary to the President said.

Molale argued the motion was self-defeating for a government looking forward to create Ministries complimenting each other.

“We want to create a consolidated Public Sector Management under one ambit. Therefore delinking the health sector to become an independent institution is not the solution,” the Specially Elected MP concluded setting the trend for other ruling party MP’s to follow suit.

While the cabinet will debate the motion, none of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party backbench joined the opposition fray, preferring to remain mum.

While he sees the motion not being the solution to the challenges currently facing the country, opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change MP Ndaba Gaolathe supports the motion as part of a broader framework for the affordable good future.
“Highly world class health sector needs independent decision and financial resource run by independent Trust. We need to start somewhere,” he said.

While the country has made remarkable achievements in the provision of health infrastructure, recording a range of positive health indicators, Dithapelo argued achieving striking progress from a low base was the easiest thing to do.

He maintained Botswana cannot continue to live in the shadows of the past glory.

“As we navigate the 21st century, our country faces profound challenges in health primarily due to epidemiological transition and more critically the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Dithapelo added, earlier attempting to woo legislators to his side.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.