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.
On his first attempt at the 30 kilometres Desert Bush Walk, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng was worried that such a great initiative by the youth was still struggling to get support from the private sector.
Speaking to BG Sports after completing the race, Olopeng said, “I support this walk and I will continue doing so because its proceeds are used to help the poor; it is also for educational purposes. My ministry is also responsible for sports tourism hence we have the likes of Khawa challenge and this walk attracted regional countries and has now turned to be a regional walk as we have seen walkers from Lesotho and South Africa.
I edge the private sector to support this initiative so that we could grow it from being a regional to a continental and world event.”
Olopeng walked together with his cabinet colleague and Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele who settled for 15 kilometres and left early as he had other business activities to attend in his Mmathethe-Molapowabojang constituency. Both are looking forward to participate in next year’s walk which is expected to be much bigger as it will be celebrating its fifth anniversary.
Sathya Sai Baba Free Medical Clinic team recently hosted its first outreach programme with the aim of taking their free special services to villages within 50 km radius of Gaborone.
Sathya Sai Clinic has operated for the past 10 years. It helps those who cannot afford medical aid to get special health care for free. The clinic provides General, Dental and Optical services every week on Sundays offering consultation, treatment, medication and spectacles for free.
Chairman of Sathya Sai Central Trust of Botswana, Dr Sonil Kadiyala said: “The goal of the outreach programme is to take health care to those people who do not have the accessibility to visit the clinic in Gaborone, thereby inspiring the team to conduct mobile health camps in selected villages at regular intervals,” he said.
Kadiyala said that during these camps consultation, good advice and medicines are provided to patients for free by a team of experienced doctors and trained volunteers. Minister of Tertiary Education Dr Alfred Madigele applauded Sathya Sai clinic for servicing the underprivileged and students.
“I am impressed by the fact that the clinic conducts Sai Student Vision support programme on a yearly basis for 10 public schools, to improve vision among the students. Vision is critical to achieve good academic progress. Yearly 400 students benefit from this programme,” Madigele said.
100 patients from Molepolole support group were the first to be assisted under this outreach programme on Sunday, which has been scheduled to take place every month depending on the needs of selected places.
Kadiyala told this publication that they will take the outreach programme to Francistown and other places in the North in future.
The Satya Sai Centre conducts blood donation camps twice a year, organised jointly by the centre and the ministry of health and hopes to equip itself with a mobile van to transport medicines and equipment to villages every month.