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The case in which the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) is challenging government regarding the dispensation of medicine by nurses has been moved to October 6th, 2023 for ruling by the Lobatse High Court Judge Modiri Letsididi.
BONU is challenging the Ministry of Health (MoH) to cease and desist forthwith from ordering, threatening, and intimidating their members in order to persuade them to dispense medicines in public health facilities across the country. The union filed an urgent application following a savingram REF:MH 6/2/7 I (15 1) dated 5 September 2023 by the ministry instituting nurses and midwives to comply with authorisation to dispense medicines and related substances.
Judge Letsididi on Thursday after listing both sides’ arguments decided to move the ruling to October 6th to give the court enough time to decide on the case.
Through their lawyers Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza & Co, BONU’s argument was that nurses are governed by the Nursing and Midwifery Act of 2013, citing section 26 of that Act which stipulates that; no person shall practice as a pharmacist or operate a pharmacy or a dispensary on any premises-unless the person has applied for and has been issued with a license in respect of the said premises for operating the pharmacy or dispensary. According to the union, the government is forcing nurses to commit an offense regardless of the above Act.
Recently, the Assistant Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe revealed that nurses should continue to dispense medicine in public health facilities as it is their duty as per their training component. Addressing the North West District Council full council recently, the minister said that the government through the then Primary Care system, Institute of Health Science curriculums were framed in such a way that nurses would have all the needed and necessary component to do all that the government or the ministry of health want them to do.
“It was not a mistake for the curriculum to include the component of dispensing medicine by nurses because they were the ones that were assigned the duties of dispensing and moreover, pharmacist and technicians were trained later,” he said.
Meanwhile, BONU spokesperson Kenosi Mogorosi has criticised that government through the ministry of health is not willing to do the needful, arguing that there is no truth in what government was saying because whatever promises it makes, it does not fulfil. He highlighted that the ministry has failed to fulfil its promise to certify nurses to dispense medicines as per section 26 of the Medicines and related substances Act. According to him, the Act also indicates that, in the case of a dispensary, the person is authorised in writing by the director of health services. Mogorosi added that the ministry has also failed to hire the 450 temporary pharmacy technicians to argument the situation of medicine dispensation in clinics and hospitals as per the ministry’s communication.