COVID-19: A necessary evil for Sir Ketumile hospital

Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

In the 1980s, Botswana government conceptualised and considered to address shortage of healthcare professionals whereupon in 1988, a Presidential Task Force was established to evaluate the need for a teaching hospital.

The team made a recommendation in 1989 for establishment of a teaching hospital. The construction of Botswana University Hospital then commenced in 2010 and the state-of-the-art medical school infrastructure was completed in 2014.

The facility, a quaternary at the apex of healthcare hierarchical system was in 2018 renamed Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) and a commissioning manager was appointed for it.

The facility was set up with a threefold mandate; to deliver patient centred care for specialised healthcare services; to teach and facilitate the development of healthcare professionals; and to invest in and create a conducive environment for medical research. To date, the hospital is yet to have a specific date as to when all this will begin despite having set eyes on 2024.


Acting commissioning manager, Dr Ishmael Makone said even though they cannot tell as to when the hospital will start delivering its mandate, the commissioning is ongoing smoothly. He said COVID- 9 was a blessing in disguise for the hospital as it tested their systems and set them on motion.

“SKMTH was mandated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) to be an isolation and treatment centre early March 2020. Initially we admitted all patients before decentralisation and now main referral centre. We started off heavily reliant on partners in partnership with Princess Marina Hospital, University of Botswana, Gaborone District Health Management Team, MoHW and the private sector,” he said.

Makone added they admitted their first suspected patient on February 2, 2020 with the first confirmed cases reaching them on March 29, 2020. He said they have thus far made 4,051 admissions, 2,986 recoveries and registered 1,045 deaths due to the pandemic. Makone said they have had 120 patients at the most and currently they have only 10 patients.

“The hospital was supported by staff from the partners and we currently offer various services for COVID-19 patients including general internal medical, paediatric, accident and emergency, intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care, high dependency, renal services, outpatient screening and testing services, radiology, pharmacy, laboratory, psychosocial support clinic, staff clinic and vaccination clinic,” he said.

Makone added that they were ready for the fourth wave and have requirements which include being able to meet the demand for critical care.

Even though he would not put a date to it, Makole said though COVID-19 slowed the commissioning in a way, the process never stopped.

“The operational readiness for the hospital includes comprehensive commissioning plan; standards including Referral Policy and Criteria (private and public facilities); procurement of equipment and consumables; facilities management readiness; functional Memorandum of Affiliation Agreement with UB signed (committees functional, relevant guidelines developed and approved); tarriffs structure; staff availability; and MoHW inspection and licensing,” he said.

Makone called on Batswana to be patient and know that the hospital will eventually be up and running.

“The intention is to start small, optimise and eventually scale up. The hospital will serve Batswana who have been forced to get services at South Africa, India, private hospitals and other areas at a high cost. We are looking to offer high level service and some of the processes like getting relevant human resources and some equipment will take some time but at the end we shall be the go-to hospital for Batswana and others from outside the country.”

Editor's Comment
A step in the right direction

That is indeed a welcome development, especially looking at the fact that the manual way of doing things is slowly disappearing and competency in the use of computers and other digital gadgets has become a must.The simple way of looking at it is just an example that almost all companies have gone completely digital and school leavers will be better placed after leaving school, because they will already be familiar with the use of computers.The...

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