The Ministry of Health (MOH) has made a call for expressions of interest from the private sector for leasing proposals for the use of old hospitals.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (PS) in the ministry, Dr. Kolaatamo Malefho, revealed that the MOH had to date received promising proposals from several private sector players in health care.
“We are in the process of evaluating them for viability and adoption,” he said.
He also said that the ministry needs the involvement of the private sector as they will not be able to provide all services they intend to extend to Batswana. This comes in the light of completion of four new hospitals: Scottish Livingstone, Mahalapye, Sekgoma and Maun Hospitals are now operational.
“I am confident that the full realization of our goals to appropriately use these facilities for health care delivery will be achieved expeditiously,” he said.
Notwithstanding this, Malefho also affirmed that they also have evaluated the needs of the facilities and would embark on a refurbishment exercise during 2009/10.
The PS also noted that one of the areas of interest the ministry had from the private sector is on the provision of expert service on knee or hip replacement operations, obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and surgery. He said that the ministry continues to procure specialist care services from neighbouring South Africa, and that recently, a team of doctors from South Africa visited Botswana for 3 days, during which 11 patients who needed either knee or hip replacement were operated on.
He revealed that the call for expressions attracted a total of 76 individual specialists and organizations within Botswana.
“We are now in the process of vetting proposals and preparing the legal framework by which we will engage them. Notably, preliminary indications are that the utilization of domestic specialist medical services will result in sizeable cost savings through the elimination of travel and lodging costs associated with the overall handling of patients that we refer to South Africa,” said Malefho.
He further made provisions on the ministry’s initiatives that have been honoured so far. He said that the ministry continues to aggressively recruit health professionals all over the world, the latest recruitments being to India, Bangladesh and Cuba.
This is especially because of the 700 medical doctors working for government, only 10% are Batswana. He further said that government still continues to encourage Batswana students overseas to come back home upon completion of studies.
Malefho went on to reveal that the government had concluded a five-year strategic plan which will guide the response to TB which remains a concern in the country, though he said a down trend has been noticed since 2006. He noted some of the response measures already in place include the expansion of community Based Directly Observed Treatment-Short Course (DOTS), introduction of a fixed Dose Combination and also engaging the private practitioners in working out modalities of managing TB.
Among others, he mentioned that the Malaria Control Programme is consolidating all its control interventions in order to satisfy the requirement for elimination by 2015 and added that they have a total of 15 confirmed cases of cholera, all being adults, 5 of which being male and the other 10 being female. The nationalities varied 2 Batswana, 1 Zambian and 12 Zimbabweans.
Regarding the HIV/AIDS scourge, he said that the ministry will be piloting the provision of highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) to all HIV positive women regardless of their CD4 count to further reduce transmission rates below 1%. He also said safe male circumcision will be implemented as an additional strategy for HIV prevention in the next financial year. “This strategy has been found to reduce HIV men by 50-60%.” He said.