UB teaching hospital must run independently

School of medicine
School of medicine

The Ministry of Health has this week been encouraged to grant the University of Botswana (UB) teaching hospital absolute autonomy in order to get the best value out of the facility.

Bonnington South Member of Parliament (MP), Ndaba Gaolathe, made this plea at the opening of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sessions on Tuesday. 

Gaolathe said for the facility to run efficiently and live up to its mandate, experts have to be allowed to run the show without too much interference.

“If you want the best value out of it keep away the politicians and bureaucrats. Leave it to the specialists - doctors and health managers,” Gaolathe advised.

The facility, a 450-bed academic hospital on the UB main campus whose construction is at the tune of P1.3 billion is to be run by the health ministry (MoH), as it doubles as a referral hospital.  Deputy permanent secretary at MoH, Tebogo Banamile, who appeared before PAC explained that a team would be appointed to manage and run the facility.

However, Gaolathe said that benchmarking against any hospital with that number of beds, annual expenditure for its effective running would go over a billion a year. As a result, he argued that having the hospital constrained by stakeholders would burden its proper running.

Initially, the hospital completion was expected by mid-2013, and was scheduled to be ready for use in 2014. The facility is to service the Faculty of Medicine as a teaching unit as well as a referral hospital under MoH. 

In an interview early this year, UB vice-chancellor Professor Thabo Fako communicated plans by the UB management to explore the untapped field of medical tourism.  At the time he said Deloitte, through the MoH was engaged in the design of the needed medical expertise to inform the hospital’s staffing composition.

That he said would ultimately decide their niche. However, he hinted that the speciality was likely to be around orthopaedics and sport medicine because at the time, UB was looking to benchmark with a Croatian hospital specialising in medical tourism, and focusing on those fields.

Meanwhile, Dr Kolaatamo Malefho, who has been permanent secretary in the health ministry was recently transferred to the UB Medical School as Project Management Coordinator, but it has since not been clear whether he will be at the helm of the hospital.

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