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Fearful Nurses Worry At Slow Security Reforms

PALAPYE: Nurses have complained of more talk and less action from government in laying down security measures that will address the abuse they endure at the hands of the public at health facilities.

On behalf of the nurses, the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) president Obonolo Rahube directed the complaint at the authorities at the Union’s recently concluded elective annual general conference that was held at Majestic Five Hotel.

The conference was held under the theme, Workplace Violence - A Challenge to Nurses’ Safety and Health Service Delivery.

 Rahube condemned the continuation of physical and emotional violence perpetrated on nurses particularly by patients at hospitals, clinics and health posts.

He said it was worrisome that the same communities they serve were violent toward them. Rahube noted even after the infamous Extension 2 clinic incident, where a nurse was raped while on night duty, they continue to register cases of violence against nurses in many hospitals across the country.  He cited other disturbing incidents at Palapye Primary Hospital, Mmutlane Clinic, Sbrana Referral Hospital and Scottish Livingstone Hospital where medical officers were assaulted. 

“The community continues to assault us because there is no security in the workplace. We condemn this violence in the strongest terms possible. The government should as a matter of urgency ensure safety in the workplace,” he said.

 Rahube said although the government had promised to provide security for nurses in hospitals and clinics, the processes were carried out at a snail’s pace and little has been done so far.

He noted that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was petitioned last year too,

amongst others to provide transport to and from health facilities for nurses on call, outsource transport for nurses in remote areas, fully furnish call rooms and install closed-circuit television (CCTVs) in health facilities, and the Ministry has not responded to the demands.  “Nurses are saying enough is enough,” Rahube buttressed. The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele acknowledged the slow pace in addressing staff welfare issues.

 He expressed dismay at the unpleasant verbal and physical abuse meted out to the entire workforce saying these (abuses) must be viewed in a broader sense of the general moral decay in the society that should be a cause for concern to the nation.

 “It results in not only fear of repeat incidents but also emotional and sometimes physical scars that will take time to fade,” the minister said.

 He added that it makes it was even more worrisome the majority of the workforce were women who lacked the physical might to defend themselves against such perpetrators.

 He said despite challenges of meagre resources, the Ministry would hasten to provide the required security personnel in the health facilities that in most cases operate 24 hours.

 He said the provisions of CCTV cameras to the same facilities and others that handle a higher number of patients would augment the security personnel and the Botswana Police Service shall monitor the cameras.




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