BONU Calls For Permanent Solution To Shortage Of Pharmacists

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Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has called on government to come up with permanent solutions to address the dispensary crisis at health facilities owing to shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians countrywide.

This follows government’s decision to hire temporary pharmacy technicians to cushion the ongoing crisis that came as a result of the decision by the union to stop nurses and midwives from dispensing drugs and other related substances.

BONU argued that their clients are not legitimately mandated to carry out the said duties as per section 26 of the Medicines and related substances Act of 2013.

To address the situation, the Assistant Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe told parliament on Monday that the ministry will hire 450 temporary pharmacy technicians though he indicated that the ministry needs more than 1000 pharmacy technicians to cover the whole country.

He said the ministry is faced with a tough battle because the local tertiary institutions do not produce enough for the market.

In addition, the ministry has also advertised 20 positions for external temporary senior pharmacists, principal pharmacy technicians (40) and principal pharmacists II (20) to further mitigate the situation at the health care centers.

In an interview, BONU Vice President-Labour Oreeditse Kelebakgosi said though they appreciate the efforts made by the ministry to hire temporary pharmacy technicians to augment the situation of medicine dispensation in health facilities they are however not pleased that the solution is only temporary. Kelebakgosi said there is need for a permanent solution to avoid the same health crisis form happening again.

Recently the union dismissed remarks made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi at a Kgotla meeting in Draaihoek that Nurses are paid an allowance for dispensing drugs despite their refusal to do so. The same sentiments were reportedly shared by Mahalapye David Tshere in parliament recently.

The union stressed that Nurses and Midwives salaries or allowances does not include dispensary allowance nor any other additional duty allowance.

Consequently, the union said the misinformation, has pushed them to review all duties that are performed by nurses outside their scope including but not limited to Issuance of sick leave to Patients, Blood and other specimen collection, Discharging of woman after delivery by midwifes and Monthly compilation of reports.

“Following a comprehensive assessment, BONU shall instruct its members to stop performing those duties that are outside their scope, as we now see that the leadership of this country does not appreciate the sacrifice offered by nurses and the hardships they go through, but instead spits on their faces,” the union concluded.

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