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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted that government has in the past failed the North West district, highlighting that the area did not get the right response to challenges leading to the dilapidation of facilities, infrastructure and poor service delivery.
Addressing management of Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital and district health management team this week after touring the hospital where challenges facing the hospital were catalogued, Masisi acknowledged mistakes were made in the past in response to unique challenges the district faced.
He revealed that the district faces health challenges, issues of human wildlife conflict, difficult terrains yet vast and drought animal diseases among others while at the same time attracting people from other places, some of whom their intentions are suspect.
Masisi revealed that the challenges at the hospital were a result of the old system of engaging contractors for government projects. He said the system was open to abuse by contractors who then handed over substandard word. Masisi noted that this has been changed to ensure projects of the desired quality and cost.
Masisi further revealed he has taken a decision for government to decentralise the health system, a move that the hospitals will be given their own budgets to run their own affairs as per their needs timeously.
Masisi said it was unacceptable that while the ministry of health gets the biggest chunk of the national budget annually, the return on investment is not satisfactory
Letsholathebe hospital superintendent, Dr Lebogang Mokotedi had shared challenges faced by the hospital, catalyzed by the fact that they do not have their own budget to attend to the problems as they arise. She lamented that it takes time for them to receive financial assistance from the DHMT or the ministry which affect the hospital’s services delivery.
Mokotedi also stated that the hospital needs urgent upgrading to a referral facility as this will improve accessibility and reduce referrals to Francistown and Gaborone.
“Some of our patients in the district are referred to Princes Marina and Nyangabgwe Referral hospitals therefore we desire to be a referral hospital more so that we service Ghanzi, Okavango, Gweta and Boteti. We are also in a tourism area and therefore have the potential to expand on medical tourism,” she said.
Among the challenges faced by the hospital, Mokotedi revealed that their 270-bed facility has some structural with a leaking roof, shortage of water for general use as well as low electricity supply in some of the rooms.
She further revealed that the water leaks during rainy season cause serious health hazard to both patients and staff. She added that because of the leaking roof, the intensive care unit (ICU) never functioned and patients have been referred to Francistown and Princess Marina Hospitals.
The hospital superintendent also informed President Masisi about the shortage of staff including doctors and nurses who opt for private health facilities. She added that the hospital also has challenges of institutional houses which end up staff sharing houses and that has caused upset in team dynamics.
Meanwhile Mokotedi has since requested for the reviewing of the 60-year retirement age in the health as they believe that health professionals such as doctors have the energy to continue working at least on contract basis.
“We have previously called some of the retired nurses to help us in some areas in the hospital on part-times basis and we have seen that indeed they can do the job diligently therefore we humbly request for your consideration in that regard,” she revealed.