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Untangling the P3 billion Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital

The public will have to wait for at least a month before they can walk in the P3 billion state of the art Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) quaternary facilities as the Commissioning Manager (CM) has set April as a month for the official opening.

Government had wished the hospital will open next month, but after some hiccups in the commissioning process, it will now open in April. In an interview with this publication, SKMTH Commissioning Manager Dr Thato Moumakwa has revealed that spanners are at work with progress on track. He disclosed that the facility could have long been opened but the then transitional team could not conceptualize the project.

“They thought it is construction then operational. They omitted the commissioning process which leads to operation.” It is said the board and the ministerial leadership was not happy because of lack of meaningful progress until Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele appointed Moumakwa as the hospital CM. “The minister intervened. He told the board that he was not happy with the progress and through his intervention the commissioning team was formulated,” he said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.

Upon full commissioning, SKMTH will offer broad areas of service like; Critical and Trauma Care, Women and Child Care, Cardiac Care Comprehensive Oncology Care, Nephrology and Transplant Services, Internal Medicine, Surgical Services and Allied Health Services.
For now, according to Dr Moumakwa the hospital will open only for the phase-one since the Commissioning process is tedious and therefore the task team will only bite, chew and swallow what they can. “We should do it rapidly but cautiously because we are dealing with integrity of an organization,” Dr Moumakwa cautioned.

The hospital, it is expected will save government millions of Pula, and relieve pressure from Botswana’s major public health care providers, Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) and Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital.  The hospital will also come as competition for private hospitals such as Bokamoso Private Hospital and Gaborone Private Hospital. The SKMTH is located on the grounds of the University of Botswana campus in Gaborone, is a 450 bed quaternary hospital.

The mandate of the hospital when fully functional is threefold; which will be to provide world class medical services at a quaternary level, to work in conjunction with the University of Botswana School of Health Services to provide world class health education, and lastly to  act as a hub for health research. It is hoped that the hospital will attract the best clinical and academic staff in the region, possibly internationally, and will be a destination of choice for clients seeking world class cost effective medical services.

The hospital, according to Dr Moumakwa will operate as a quaternary hospital. “It will fit into the apex of a healthcare referral ecosystem that entails the two regional tertiary hospitals, namely PMH and Nyangabgwe Referral Hospitals, which will refer into SKMTH for super-specialized health services.”

HIRING OF COMMISSINING TEAM

It has emerged from sources that the process of hiring those in the team was characterized by poor governance and that best recruitment standards were not followed. Some of the complaints are, the CM, singlehandedly recruited the hospital’s staff despite some believing that recruitment should have entailed a panel decision contrary to what occurred at the hospital.  

“I was looking for competency. I was explicitly told to do the whole thing urgently and was ordered to even head-hunt and I agreed. However I modified the head-hunting by looking at CV’s of those that applied in 2017 and we interviewed at least four people per discipline,” Moumakwa said in an interview held on the 4th floor office of the facility this week.

He added, “I engaged myself, Human Resource and a co-opted member of the board for hiring. Only Finance Manager and Board Secretary are the ones who were never interviewed.” By far the team is made up of 16 employees. 10 of those were from the transitional team, with CM recruiting six members mostly from the private sector.

EQUIPMENTS

By far the hospital which strives for excellence and wants to position Botswana as the hub for medical purposes has major equipment’s for Diagnostic Radiology delivered.  This will aid with CT scans, X-rays, MRI and mammography. All these are necessary for phase-one according to Dr Moumakwa. Other equipment for nuclear medicine and radiation oncology are expected to be procured in the next 24 months.

WILL IT BE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE FACILITY?  

The hospital which is 100 percent funded by the government but registered as a company will only hospitalise those that have been referred to by the tertiary hospitals. “We will open for private patients as we will be competing with other available facilities. We are also developing a tariffs system whereby we will be able to recover money from medical aids.” For ordinary citizens they will have to be referred. “We won’t be dealing with cold cases, but if there is an emergency around us we will assist,” said the CM.

In terms of referrals from public hospitals, Dr Moumakwa says patients will be given invoices that will also be sent to government so that the patient can comprehend the value of the service offered while reconciling with the subvention they are given by the government.
“That is why a fully functional accounts and administrative team is key we should justify to government,” he said.

Meanwhile it is expected that various students be it undergraduate or post graduate medicine students from University of Botswana will pass through the facility for their practical tests. This is in line with its vision of training and producing international standard healthcare professionals for the entire national healthcare system, and beyond. Medical research is another area that will see the hospital focusing on. “We want to find medical solutions that are unique to our environment,” Dr Moumakwa concluded.

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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