The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) has assured the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), who had petitioned the ministry over failure to take health officers’ security seriously, that private security services have been engaged at health facilities.
BONU had petitioned the ministry on April 26, 2018 after a young female nurse was brutally raped whilst on duty at Extension 2 Clinic in Gaborone. This week, the permanent secretary, Ruth Maphorisa stated that through the engagement of private securities in their facilities, it was envisaged that service would be improved.
She highlighted that it had become apparent that in most cases, they lacked training and appreciation of their role and therefore would consult with the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to address the issue of quality service provided as there was needed to step up security at their facilities.
She added that the ministry included the installation of electronic security devices during the 2018/2019 budget to explore ways of beefing up security, which includes installation of CCTV in passages and access cards in restricted areas. “We agreed that in referral and district hospitals, there should be call rooms that are appropriately furnished, while in clinics nurses should be transported while on call. We also discussed possibility of outsourcing the transport services.
“We agree that housing be provided within the proximity of the facility where possible and the ministry will also approach Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development to possibility of sourcing housing from private market,” she said.
Pertaining to the safety at workplace issue, Maphorisa said the upgrading and maintenance of facilities would pay attention of safety issues. She added that the ministry would address stakeholders on the issue of Violence against Health Personnel by members of the public.
She also acknowledged the ministry’s failure over the years to provide uniform for the nurses, saying that they were considering uniform allowance for nurses and were in consultation with the
On vacancies at facilities and stagnation at scale C1, she said the ministry was currently processing the filling of vacancies and had also rationalised some positions within the Ministry to create D4 positions at facilities that will allow for some C1 officers to move to D4.
In the petition, the BONU president, Obonolo Rahube stated that nurses played a critical and indispensable role in the health sector and therefore deserved to be safe when serving and saving lives. “The nurses’ nature of duty demands a safe and secure working condition for nurses to be safe and carry on their duties without any looming threat to their psychological and physical security.
“For years, nurses have endlessly complained and raised concerns about their security in health facilities. Quite regrettably, nurses’ cry has fallen on deaf ears and those in charge have done virtually nothing in order to attend to this issue,” he said.
He noted that as a result nurses found themselves in unwelcoming situations where they have to risk their lives in order to ensure that the nation continues receiving the required health care. He said it has become a compromise of self-sacrifice for nurses to serve the community while MoH&W remained ignorant that nurses need a safe and secure working environment at all times.
He stated that many local health facilities did not have effective security features and therefore exposing health workers to high security risk. These risks extend from loss of personal property, physical assaults to harassment, raped and murder. He said the “call to duty” periods included hours of the entire night where nurses are left exposed to all forms of dangers imaginable and unimaginable.