Mmegi’s news report of the inability of the Thamaga Primary Hospital to provide help to those who most desperately needed it must have appalled all who read it.
In brief, a family of four, husband, wife and two children were asleep in their house in Kumakwane when, with the causes unknown, their house caught fire.
At the funeral, relatives related how they had rushed the four to the hospital in Thamaga where they hoped help could be given to the mother and one child, the other two having already passed away.
When they got there at 4.15 am, the nurse on duty told them to wait until her colleague came to take her place at 7.30 and by inference until the ambulance driver came on shift. Both mother and daughter died whilst waiting for the help that never came.
I have questioned a number of people about this story and all have stated that this kind of situation is common to clinics and primary hospitals throughout the country.
Routinely help is not provided with patients being told either that the place is under staffed or that all the nurses are in a meeting. Personally, I read that Kumakwane-Thamaga story and my guts turned over. How is it possible that this could have happened? How is it possible that this kind of story is repeated again and again? How is it possible that no one responsible ever appears to take action? Is it, perhaps, because there is no one responsible and therefore no one to blame?
I have previously suggested that nurses are a power block of such magnitude that no Minister or Permanent Secretary has either the capability or the wish to confront them. Nevertheless MPs are duty bound, at minimum, to try and close this disastrous gap between patient and nurse.
The problem seems to be that whilst we have a Westminster Parliamentary system, the majority of our MPs act as if this is a PR system and that they have little or no constituency responsibilities.
Again and again we see local problems, sometimes severe, crying out loud for the intervention of the MP who is never to be seen. Presumably, many would maintain that they cannot involve themselves in an established chain of command and that, most certainly, they cannot be thought guilty of any kind of negligence.
Locally elected MPs cannot simply opt out, as they are now doing claiming that this or that problem is one with which they cannot interfere. Why do we even have
Tellingly, a similar but very different story was reported by The Telegraph (10.5.17), which reported that the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Dr Alfred Madigele, in an interesting break from past practice, had meetings with student leaders from three major educational institutions in Maun, Francistown and Phikwe.
All the three were bluntly critical of their respective institutions and described their long-standing failure to achieve remedial action.
Why had they not approached their MPs for help? Or did they not do so because they were convinced that their respective MPs were incapable of providing help? And why were the MPs, in any case, seemingly unaware of the problems at each place?
My third and last example along these lines relates to the demolition of the 85-year-old Sekgoma Memorial Hospital in Serowe (Mmegi 12.5.17) which appears to have taken the most interested parties there by surprise.
How could this happen? How could the Khama Museum have been left in ignorance of what was transpiring? Why was it that they were never informed and consulted? Who should have done the informing?
Mmegi cited the case of the demolition of the old District Commissioner’s house by the District Council although, in reality, both this house and the old hospital were government owned and it was the Ministry concerned, which would take decisions about their future.
My perhaps now outdated list of the country’s national monuments excludes the Sekgoma Hospital.
Nevertheless the assumption would be that the National Museum, with a major responsibility for the nations heritage, would be keeping a sharp look out for whatever was happening.
In previous years, however, the Museum, as in the case of Dimawe and Modipe, proved to be painfully unaware of what was going on.
Now, that weakness is repeated in Serowe, as it was earlier there with the DC’s house. Self evidently, the normal linkages either don’t exist or don’t work.
The National Museum has always never regarded district museums as working partners so it neither informs nor is informed.
Central Government, in this case, the Ministry of Health has not felt under any obligation to communicate its intentions to any local authority so the responsibility for linking one to the other has been left to the District Commissioner and the MP. In this instance, neither was visible and the linkages simply did not link.