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Assault, rape fears haunt 'terrified’ nurses

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
In danger: Nurses say 24hour clinics are the worst affected by violence PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) says government is turning a deaf ear to its members’ security, a situation that has seen nurses working in fear of assault and rape by patients and others.

Due to the situation, BONU has intensified its calls for government to beef up security for health workers on duty especially for those who work on night shifts.

“This is a long outstanding and burning issue,” BONU president, Obonolo Rahube told Parliament’s Public Committee on the Public Service and Management.

“Nurses and midwives are attacked, raped, assaulted, threatened and insulted at the workplace. The employer has been engaged several times and has made several promises to address the issue, but the status quo remains.”

 On June 15, 2020, the Ministry of Health and Wellness wrote to BONU stating that through the engagement of private securities in their facilities it was envisaged that conditions of service would be improved.

“It has however become apparent that in most cases they lack training and appreciation of their role,” the Ministry said.

“The matter as you may be aware falls outside the mandate of our Ministry.

“We therefore in consultation with the relevant Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security will address the issue of quality of service provided.”

However, the Ministry was in agreement that

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security needed to be stepped up in public health facilities.

The Ministry said government would explore various alternatives such as installation of CCTV cameras in passages and access cards in restricted areas.

Recently the Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti told Parliament that he was aware that health care workers, including nurses, experience abuse, attacks and even rape inside consultation rooms and other areas in health facilities across the country.

“It is worth noting that these attacks happen mostly in 24 hour facilities even where security has been outsourced,” he said.

“It is on this note that my Ministry took the initiative of partnering with Botswana Police Services to install Closed Circuit Television cameras in 24 hour health care facilities as an add on to available security.

“The project is aimed at achieving high levels of safety and security for health workers, vital equipment and supplies.”

However, the minister said CCTV cameras would not be installed inside the consultation rooms for privacy and confidential reasons but other measures such as panic buttons would instead be installed.



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