The Minister of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Lemogang Kwape has said the country’s health institutions are crippled by lack of manpower and limited resources.
Kwape made the revelations when addressing Members of Parliament (MPs) who were worried by the waiting period for seriously ill patients booked to see a doctor at public health facilities.
The MPs raised concerns following a motion tabled by MP for Nata/Gweta, Polson Majaga.
The MP had asked the health minister if he would consider shortening the waiting period and if he was aware that some patients die while waiting for their booking dates to arrive.
Majaga had also wanted to find out if the health minister considered the practice as the best throughout the world or if it is just happening in Botswana and when that will be rectified.
In his response, Kwape conceded that lack of resources and manpower shortages were serious constraints to the Ministry delivering on mandate and pleaded for Parliament’s intervention in rectifying the crisis.
He, however, stated that the Ministry was working around the clock to alleviate the situation.
Kwape said recruitment of specialists was an ongoing exercise, but sometimes due to financial constraints they failed to secure the services of the much-needed experts to respond to the health needs of citizens. “The Ministry is working around the clock to deliver emergency services and all other services on reasonable time,” Kwape told Parliament.
“I admit that sometimes we do not have enough manpower in the country and may have to take patients outside the country, which causes the delay, but we are working very hard to address the situation and save lives as it is our mission.”
He said the Ministry has procured two scanners for Maun and Molepolole hospitals, which will aid in diagnosis so that it can speed up service provision.
Kwape also revealed that the Ministry was faced with a
He pleaded with MPs to encourage constituents to get to the hospitals much earlier so that they could offer extensive treatment.
He also implored the MPs to talk to Batswana about lifestyle choices, which include monitoring what they eat, doing some physical activity such as exercise or taking walks.
He said choosing healthy lifestyles would also lessen the burden on government.
The MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi asked the minister if he was aware that there were patients at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital booked to see a doctor in 2022 and what the minister will do in response to the crisis.
He also asked what the minister would do to retain specialists or amend their scales, because they raised concerns over low wages.
In response Kwape said their actual performance in hospitals is manageable, but in terms of retention of specialists who attract scarce skills allowance, there should be provision to the Ministry so that they can be retained.
“Government has a system that regulates payments of staff hence pleading with Parliament to help with coming up with instruments that will allow the health ministry to do the same in order to attract specialists.”
He, however, stated that ill patients are an emergency and they do not have to go on waiting lists to see specialists as they are given priority and follow the normal elective waiting list.
He added that it was unfortunate that patients die while waiting to see specialists hence the Ministry was working tirelessly to avail the necessary personnel and services to alleviate the situation.
Kwape revealed through his roadmap that he was upgrading district hospitals for the purpose of bringing health services closer to the people.