Ministry not concerned by acute shortage of medicine

Medical Facility setup PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Medical Facility setup PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

In a continuing health crisis, Botswana continues to experience the worst ever shortage of medicine in government health facilities. The medicines which have been on limited supply are pills for chronic illnesses such as HIV, diabetes and hypertention to mention but a few. Whilst Batswana across the country continue to suffer the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is taking its sweet time to atleast address Batswana on the dire situation.

• We will issue a statement soon- MoH

• You are responsible for the deaths as a result of medicine shortage- BNF

Responding to a detailed questionnaire from MmegiOnline, acting chief public relations officer at the Ministry, Malepa Dibonwa could only say that the ministry is working on reconciling it's data for what is available and what is not .

"We have engaged CMS to provide such information for compilation" he said further adding that a statement will be released soon. This is despite Minister Edwin Dikoloti's promise last year November that by December there crisis would be a thing of the past. Answering to a question posed to him in parliament then, Dikoloti said Government had engaged major pharmaceutical manufacturers for immediate supply of critical medications by December 2022. Then Dikoloti said government was working with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital to assist in supplies of most medications needed for a period of one year.

He further told Parliament that a long-term strategy by the ministry was to promote Botswana as a suitable hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

He said the strategy of attracting pharmaceutical manufacturing had the advantages of enhancing consistent local pharmaceutical supply, citizen skills transfer, job creation and entrepreneurial skill development, particularly for the youth. The minister admitted that while local pharmacists had been empowered to address some of the health service delivery challenges, the intervention measures had not helped to deal with the issues completely as pharmaceutical supply to the country was still low.

What continues to be of great concern, he said, was the current acute shortage of critical medications, especially for chronic conditions.

“Cancer drugs are currently at 44 per cent availability and the implication is that when patients are inadequately managed, they may eventually require more expensive and cumbersome ways of treatment,” he said back in November.

As a result of the acute shortage of critical drugs and specialists over the last two years, Dikoloti said government had no option but to refer patients to private health facilities leading to a sharp rise in cost from P3 million to P1 billion.

Botswana National front (BNF) has issued a statement condemning the government for the crisis, which put citizen' lives at risk. In a press statement BNF expressed a great concern regarding the shortage of medicine and pills. The party's Secretary General (SG), Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, indicated that wiith that state of health sector , the ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government was sentencing people to death . He added that the BDP government is responsible for and must be held for all deaths that will result from people not being able to take their medication properly due to the acute shortage of medicine.

"Most people die not because of severity of their illness, but due to lack of proper medical attention attributed to shortage of medicine and relevant equipment. Our economy is capable of giving top notch or world class public health system in terms of infrastructure , equipment , personnel and medication . This is failing under BDP as they don't have the humanity to save people's lives . Funds that could be used for quality public health system are diverted to corruption, which is collapsing this country to the suffering of Batswana," he said.

He added that Batswana should wise up and not accept mediocre service and a defective public health system.

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