The country will upgrade four existing hospitals to add to the current referral hospitals in order to improve access and reduce referrals across the border, this is according to the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Alfred Madigele in an exclusive interview with BG Health.
He explained that they will upgrade four hospitals to tackle existing challenges faced by the few referral hospitals in existence. The new referral hospitals to be upgraded in the next financial year are Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital, to cater for the Ngamiland region, Sekgoma in Serowe, Mahalapye to cater for Central Mahalapye, Shoshong and Tswapong as well as Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole.
“We have a tertiary care problem in Botswana. At the moment, we have only three referral hospitals, Nyangabwe and Princess Marina Hospital for general special care and Sbrana in Lobatse, which serves as a psychiatric hospital and the two specific medical tertiary facilities being Princess Marina and Nyangabwe hospitals are faced by congestion,” said Madigele. Madigele says that they have budgeted for the requisite equipment in the coming financial year.
“We have budgeted for machines like; CT scans and to upgrade theatres, so that operations across all disciplines can take place.” He says that other than congestion in these hospitals, there is also shortage of specialists, which forces them to refer most of the patients to South Africa.
“We are also going to hire specialists that are commensurate with a referral centre, for instance with a minimum basic package of two gynecologists, two surgeons, two anaestheologists, two orthopedic specialists and others much needed, per hospitals,” said the minister.
Madigele noted that for the past years, a lot of money was spent on referrals and the only two referral hospitals are always working on back logs in terms of procedures or surgeries, with appointments going as far as 2021/2022. “We have seen hemorrhage funds for the past years as the Botswana referred patients to South Africa, so we saw the need to increase our hospitals,” he said explaining that they selected places that could cover the entire country for referrals.
“Botswana is a vast country but sparsely populated, so it is important that we have these focal referral facilities,” he said. “Upgrading a hospital is not simply the change of a name, it involves upgrading equipment and making sure that it is right and suitable for the hospital of that nature. This include Human Resource and specialists in the form of support stuff and requisite HR,” he said.
He also explains that they would be working with partners from other countries, to help in the new referrals hospitals. “We have partners in the form of countries that we have agreements with, that is Cuba and Mauritius so far, and if we don’t get them in Botswana we are going to recruit them from these countries,” he said.