Health Facilities Crisis As Nurses Cease Dispensing Drugs


  • DHMTs are short of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Long queues of patients emerge at dispensaries
  • DHMTs await guidance from the Ministry of Health
  • Ministry reportedly plans to hire more pharmacy technicians

Following the recent decision by the Botswana Nurse Union (BONU) to stop nurses and midwives from dispensing drugs and other related substances, long queues and waiting of patients is reported to have emerged in various health facilities across the country.

This is as the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) are reported to have shortages of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who according to BONU are the only ones authorised to perform the task. The situation remains a national crisis as the DHMT across the country continue to await guidance from the Ministry of Health.

The crisis is said to have mostly hit the health posts and clinics where majority of nurses were tasked with medicines dispensary duties before the union’s decision. BONU has strongly come out to say nurses should not carry out the said duties as per section 26 of the Medicines and related substances Act of 2013.

BONU Acting President, Oreeditse Kelebakgosi recently stressed that they have not instructed nurses to boycott their duties but rather advised and encouraged them to exercise their duties as per the act

“We have spoken to nurses and midwives to stop dispensing medication in hospitals, clinics and health posts until these matter is resolved by the ministry and BONU. As of now we are awaiting response from the ministry regarding the matter at hand,” he said.

In an interview, Ngami DHMT public relations officer, Batisani Mokgethi revealed that they have equally been affected just like the rest of other DHMTs about the decision taken by nurses to no longer dispense medications. 

He indicated that they have only 4 pharmacists and 21 pharmacy technicians to cover from Phuduhudu up to Tsau Village adding that the situation has been challenging especially in the health posts. He said where possible, the DHMT send pharmacy technicians to cushion the situation. Mokgethi said the technicians are however unable to cover all the areas due to shortage of staff as most of the main clinics have no pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that assist with dispensing.

“In some facilities around Maun, some patients receive the service at Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital as the only referral centre therefore this has resulted in long queues at the hospital. The situation remains a national crisis and we continue to wait for guidance from our principals at the Ministry of Health,” he told this publication.

In Okavango, the DHMT coordinator, Dr Bokwena Moali who concurred that the situation has also impacted them said they are doing all possible to mitigate the situation by making sure they send pharmacy technicians to affected clinics and hospitals in the region.

In Mahalapye, Dr Kagiso Tshegetsang also confirmed that there have been disruptions in service following BONU’s decision. However, to mitigate this, he said the DHMTs have since tasked the pharmacy technicians for the job across the district. He revealed that the Ministry of Health is working on a plan to hire more pharmacy technicians for dispensing in other health facilities not covered.

According to him, they only have 32 pharmacy technicians and 3 pharmacists.


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