The Ministry of Health and Wellness has yet to tot up some other important figures but is presently able to reveal the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to the major isolation facility that, because of its status, bears the most burden of the pandemic.
“A cumulative figure of approximately 4 000 COVID-19 patients were admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital since the pandemic broke out in 2020,” says Christopher Nyanga, the Ministry Chief Public Relations Officer.
However, the Ministry couldn’t state the average in-patient hospital cost for a single Covid-19 patient.
Said Nyanga: “The ministry is unable to give an amount as of now because it has not yet done any costing of the services provided at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, which are all paid for by the government. However, we can confirm that a huge financial investment has been extended to the hospital in the form of the medical expertise and specialist equipment as well as the general upkeep of patients while at the hospital, which is fully borne by government.”
The Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Covid-19 Taskforce, Professor Mosepele Mosepele, is a lecturer at the hospital, which is part of and is collocated within the University of Botswana’s School of Medicine. The university is state-owned. At the start of the pandemic last year, UB’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology collaborated with the Faculty of Medicine to produce face shields, face masks, ventilation hoods and ventilators.
While the condition of patients, the medical attention they receive and the number of days they spend in the hospital will vary, mathematical sciences make it possible to calculate the average in-patient hospital cost. Such sciences were used when HIV/AIDS epidemic hit Botswana. A comparative analysis of whether it would be cheaper to let patients die or enrol them on a regime of life-saving medication was made. The latter option was deemed more attractive and Botswana became the first country in Africa to provide anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to its citizens.
MoHW may not have worked out the figures but last year, it was revealed that the costs range between P4000 and P15 000 a day at private hospitals. The average in-patient hospital cost at SKTH, all of it borne by the government, would be lower but within the same neighbourhood – or next street.
There is every likelihood that as the state-of-emergency ends this Thursday (September 30) and restrictions are relaxed, Covid-19 cases may rise. A fortnight ago, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, said that nightclubs will be allowed to re-open on October 1. The latter raises the spectre of jam-packed nightclubs that would likely lead to a dramatic rise in cases.