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BONU condemns health ministry's security lapse

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has condemned the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH&W) for not taking seriously the welfare and security of health officers that include nurses and midwives.

In a press release, BOMU expressed great grief at the recent sexual assault incident on one of the nurses at Extension II Clinic in Gaborone.  They stated that the barbaric and heinous crime was committed when the particular nurse was on duty and her sole purpose being to attend to the health needs of the nation. 

“This has brought to the surface our long standing issues we have as a union brought to the employer and government on numerous occasions during consultative meetings.  The most painful thing is that these crimes are repeating and nothing has been done to stop them.  A few years ago, a young nurse in her prime years was attacked and brutally murdered when knocking off from an evening shift,” BONU secretary general, Keoopetse Paphane said. 

“Another nurse was attacked while awaiting transport after knocking off from an evening shift, she sustained serious injuries including a fractured arm.  Nurses are attacked in villages and their houses are broken into, while working in facilities with no security. These are just but a few examples of criminal acts directed to poor defenseless nurses and midwives while they are forced to work under horrible conditions,” he noted. 

Paphane stated that nurses and midwives knock off late and travel long distances to rented houses without being provided with transport let alone accommodation.  BONU continues to state that nurses work shifts and are

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called from their houses and walk between houses and health facilities without any security.  Nurses are said to work in facilities that do not have electricity, but were expected to do night duty. 

He continued to state that surprisingly, other cadres that work in the same ministry were collected when on call. It notes that despite all those problems including the crimes experienced by nurses and midwives, nothing had been done, despite numerous appeals by the union leadership. 

“MoH&W released a press statement on April 23, 2018 condemning the incident, while we appreciate the effort.  We would like to categorically state that this is but a symptom of a major problem that cannot be resolved by putting up superficial measures.  It needs a detailed combined effort by all stakeholders to look at nurses and health workers’ need as a whole, not a symptom approach or crisis management as stated by the Minister because nurses are the most affected cadre.”

BONU has therefore called upon MoH&W to take action and root out the problems. They stated that they wanted the whole country to know the conditions nurses work under year in and year out. They stated that the first contact at health care facilities is the nurse at the health post, clinic and every time they are exposed to terrible crimes and work conditions that include verbal, physical and sexual abuse.



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