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BCP sues over new health policy

PINI BOTHOKO
Ministry of Health headquarters
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has filed an intention to sue the Ministry of Health and Wellness over the recent circulated Savingram on removal from medical cover for self-inflicted harm.

The Savingram was from the Ministry’s permanent secretary, Shenaz El-Halabi dated March 29, 2017, titled ‘Removal from medical cover for self-inflicted harm’ addressed to the District Health Management Team (DHMT) heads.

Amongst their terms BCP through attorney Friday Leburu is demanding an order directing and ordering the ministry to provide or disclose the entire process followed in coming to a decision the subject of Savingram No. MH9/43 dated March 29, 2017.

BCP also demands an order setting aside and declaring as unlawful and null and void, the entire Savingram as well as declaring as unlawful and null and void and unconstitutional the Savingram addressed to all DHMT heads.

Their terms also order interdicting and restraining the first and second respondent from implementing the terms of the Savingram aforesaid pending the final determination of this matter.

The BCP also demands the reviewing, correcting and setting aside of the decision of the first and second respondent to remove from medical cover for self inflicted harm as same is contrary to law, unreasonable or improper.

They also stressed the reviewing, correcting and setting aside tariff attached to the Savingram as being discriminatory and unconstitutional and in breach of the Health Act in so far as it relates to patients associated with what the directive classifies as self-inflicted harm particularly in so far as it relates to drunken driving, riding motor bikes without helmet, failure to use seatbelts for self or children as passengers, participating in riots ad other mass gatherings involving violence leading to injury, lung cancer associated with tobacco and tobacco products use, attempted suicide related to alcohol or drug abuse.

The BCP said the permanent secretary in the Ministry or such party

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as have taken the decision the subject of this complaint have gone beyond the powers conferred upon it by Public Health Act and its regulations and has consequently acted ultra vires and therefore reviewable.

They (BCP) stated that it is difficult to conceive of any reason for the decision as set out in the Savingram other than the desire to inflict special financial hardship and to discriminate and or afford unequal treatment to such persons as are identified in the said Savingram including minor children.

BCP further said the decision(s) as contained in Savingram are so oppressive and a gratuitous interference with the rights of the persons identified therein and cannot find justification in the minds of any reasonable man hence such decision is irrational and entirely without basis in law.

The Savingram stated that it has become increasingly clear that the cost of sustaining medical services has continued to escalate and while a new health financing strategy, which will articulate various health funding modalities is being developed, it has been decided that some services given in some segment of patients will now have to be paid for.

Recently, the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Shirley Mukamambo could not comment further on the Savingram, stating that the policy was still under discussion by heads of the Ministry.

“It was unfortunate that the Savingram was leaked whilst it was still being discussed internally. It was supposed not to have been out to the public. As such, we cannot at this point comment on it, but we promise that as soon as the discussions are complete, there will be a proper communication to the public and the media,” Mukamambo said.



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