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Gov’t cancels RSA referrals, saves P300 million

The Government through Ministry of Health and Wellness’s bold decision to stop referring patients to South Africa and Indian private hospitals will save government P300 million on annual bases, Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has revealed.

Madigele believes the government should take control of the referrals for specialised care and channel the resources in a strategic manner that grows both public and private sector capacity.  “We must prioritise supporting our private hospitals over external facilities. In partnership with our providers, we must devise concrete measures to curb abuse and wastage in billing for services,” he said before adding.


“We will save a lot of money. Initially we spent P300 million yearly but the contract with the middlemen who facilitated those referrals elapsed and we built our own which saved us a lot,” he said during his first ever media engagement since assuming office last year.
The reason why the government decided to scrap exporting patients to South African hospitals was due to exorbitant medical bills which bled the ministry purse and other challenges including negligence.

Government has been sending patients to these two countries for average and complicated surgeries. A whopping P 627 504 802 was spent on South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017 while the Indian hospitals gobbled P13 million from the ministry between 2015 and 2017. The decision to do away with international referrals has been on the pipeline since last year and it was catalysed by the opening of the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH).

“A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalize provision of super specialist services within Botswana. The hospital which is still on the first phase of commissioning and expected to open doors on the 24th of this month will offer a number of services including; paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy.

These and many others that the hospital will offer upon full commissioning have been cases that gobbled millions of pula from the government. Reasons to transfer patients to the international private facilities ranged from complicated cases, lack of proper equipment and infrastructure by the hospital. Flagship hospital Princess Marina is said to be lacking capacity in the three components to do the work with diligence.

This development follows the recommendations by the Deputy Director- Patient Care, Setso Setso who advised the ministry last year. “We have the capacity to carry out most of surgeries locally. We have specialists; I don’t know why we keep on referring patients outside, because it is costly. Referrals within a country have proven to be cheap,” he said then.

On the other hand cardiology mostly interventional paediatric and cardiothoracic surgeries costs R500 000 on average, with complicated cases ranging between R800 000- R1 million. A total of 87 patients were sent for examination on these cases last year. The government after sending 99 patients spent between R120 000 and R300 000 for normal vascular surgeries, while spending R800 00- R100 000 for complicated cases. For ophthalmology diseases especially retinal detachment, corneal transplant and diabetic retinopathy among others, 342 patients sent outside, the government was spending R1 200 for consultation with R62 500 for surgery per patient.

For laser treatment (few but high cost) where 36 patients were refereed outside, the ministry splashed between R120 000 and R400 000. All these according to Setso should be done locally if the government is to be financially prudent. “We should come up with a model to sustain what we have. Let’s purchase equipment so we can do these locally. We can also call the specialists to come and do those surgeries in Botswana.

We should also go the technological way, let’s have a tele-medicine where a nurse or a doctor can just look at the screen and prescribe to you which medicines you can take. This will save congestion in some facilities or going up and down to the hospitals as doctors in your locality will be able to read from far and give patient medicines,” he said.

The idea by Setso was warmly welcomed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Ruth Maphorisa and convinced the minister. “We should do things differently. We should change our attitude. “Let’s make our facilities function and stop going out, it is unnecessary at times. We can have a plan for the doctors that patients normally visit to come here regularly. Further we should have more specialists as a country let them go out for further training,” she said last year.

MEDICATION AVAILABILITY

The health ministry which has been on the media for wrong reasons owing to medication shortage has risen from slumber. The ministry is in the process of installing an electronic information management system (e-Pulse) through which a better forecast in medicine requirements is expected and will strengthen inventory management. The Ministry has further upgraded the position of Central Medical Stores Manager and has placed additional manpower with requisite skills and knowledge in supply chain.

MINISTRY CONSIDERS LEGALISING ABORTION

With many backstreet abortion reported in various health facilities, the ministry has taken a decision to seriously start conversation on legalising selective terminations. “The Ministry is considering having conversation around legalising selective abortions. This is because we record a number of unsafe abortions and we will have to turn that around,” said minister Madigele.


GOVT ENGAGES TRADITIONAL HEALERS  

Madigele also added that his ministry is on track to formally approach traditional healers to assist where there is a need, especially in mysterious diseases like the mass hysteria that befell Lempu CJSS, which caused numbness and weakness of the knees.
“Health is very broad subject and we want to engage them (traditional doctors). Medicines are plant based so we need to formalize synergies especially on Non Communicable Diseases and understand cultural beliefs and I believe it will mostly benefit patients if we collaborate.”

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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