BONU President Decries Prenatal Drug Shortages

Obonolo Rahube PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Obonolo Rahube PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

The Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) president, Obonolo Rahube says his union is concerned about the shortage of essential drugs in clinics and hospitals around the country.

He told The Monitor on Friday they are most worried about the lack of ferrous sulphate drugs, which are mostly given out to pregnant women.

“There is a serious shortage of drugs in our clinics and we keep on asking our clients to check some drugs at pharmacies, which are not good,” Rahube said.

“The ministry should avail drugs so that patients are given their prescribed medicines. Our concern is that lack of ferrous sulphate could weaken the mother’s immune system and make infections more likely to the patient.”


He said it also increases the risk of a baby weighing too little at birth (low birth weight). Rahube revealed that iron deficiency anaemia and child mortality are public health problems that need urgent attention.

In addition, the BONU president said the Ministry of Health and Wellness should know better that the country will soon register a high number of maternal mortality cases if nothing is done, therefore the situation will not reflect well on the country.

“The lifetime of maternal death is the estimated risk of an individual woman dying from pregnancy or childbirth during her adult lifetime based on maternal mortality and the fertility rate in the country. Botswana has been committed to exploring ways to reduce maternal mortality. The summit that was held in 2018 in Gaborone showed that efforts to reduce maternal mortality currently is estimated at 157 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016,” he explained.

Rahube said the focus of the ministry should not only be on the COVID-19 pandemic alone since there are other diseases, some deadly. In the 2016 submission by the ministry’s consultant for maternal health, Dr Morrison Sinvulain said 80 deaths were recorded in that year. Sinvulain noted that 75% were preventable which would have resulted in only 20 deaths.

He said there is a need to implement pragmatic measures including identification and scale up proven preventative interventions, including systematic death audits and adherence and district compliance to national protocols and guidelines.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti were not successful as he said he could only attend to The Monitor questionnaire next week.

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