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Batswana patients kicked out of SA hospital!

Government through the Ministry of Health has spent a whopping P 627 504 802 on South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017, but this has not been enough to avoid the embarrassment of having Batswana patients kicked out of South African hospitals due to non-payment by government.

Patients originating from Botswana hospitals and sent to South Africa for medical attention are treated for various conditions, including Pediatric Cancers, Ophthalmology, Hematology, Vascular Surgery and Pediatric Cardiac Operations among other ailments. Some patients were recently turned away at the Netcare Sunning Hill hospital in South Africa because government has a bill yet to be cleared at that hospital, compared to the amount Botswana spends at South African hospitals, a paltry P1.4 million is the amount owed.

Although the Public Relations Office at Princess Marina Hospital could not disclose the amount owed to the South African hospital, this publication established the rounded figure from sources. “Two patients returned from Sunning Hill Hospital without their procedures being done because the hospital indicated that they are owed some money by Botswana Government. These patients returned on the 4th of May 2018 and are awaiting appointment from the doctors.

One needs to understand that when patients are seen at South African Hospitals, health facilities are not paid cash. The costs have to be verified and this can take some time since we have a lot of patients referred to South Africa,” PMH Chief Media liaison, Donnell Kutlapye confirmed. Botswana is supporting South Africa’s ‘medical tourism’, Many people cross the border for health care are doing so for serious medical conditions, Kutlapye said the Princess Marina hospital sends at least 30 patients to South Africa for medical procedures every week.

Batswana also travel because their home country lacks quality facilities or to seek treatments illegal or  HYPERLINK "https://theconversation.com/medical-treatment-not-approved-yet-no-problem-welcome-to-circumvention-tourism-35070" not yet available at home. But to avoid embarrassment, procedures have to be followed before patients are sent to private hospitals in South Africa. WeekendPost has also been reliably informed that Marina staff also goofed up as they sent some patients off without providing their full medical profile.

Contacted for comment, one of the patients who was among the group sent to the said hospital at the beginning of last month, stated that lodging and transport were also a problem. This, it has emerged resulted in delays in attending patients timely and eventually returning home without treatment. “We were told there is no fuel,” said one affected patient who spoke to this publication anonymously.  “We used a quantum owned by one of the Lodges to go to the border where we connected with a marina combi, however there was only one nurse – and she could not assist all of us.”

Some of the aggrieved patients pointed out that despite the sensitivity of their conditions, they were stranded in Sandton as there was no transport to bring back them home. “The lodging facility submits their bills to the Health Share Health Solutions which was tasked with placing patients to health facilities. Health Share Solutions then submits invoices to Botswana Embassy for payment,” Kutlapye shared.

He also added: “We had transport challenges and we arranged transport with the lodging facility. They brought patients all the way up to the border. All the 12 patients had been discharged from various hospitals and were stable. There was a communication error that led to an hour delay. Our nurse used our ambulance and picked the patients from the South African border.” Government has been sending patients to South Africa for procedures that cannot be carried out locally, either due to lack of resources or capacity.

Meanwhile, between 2015 and 2017, a total of P13 million was used by government to send patients to India for various medical operations. These included bone marrow, kidney and liver transplants. The new health Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has vowed to resuscitate the Ministry which recently attracted backlash from the public for perceived poor service delivery. Princess Marina Hospital in particular has come under fire over issues of negligence.

Below is cost of government spending for patients referred to South Africa.

FINANCIAL YEAR    TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT
2014/15    P160, 365, 699.55
2015/16    P200, 519, 219.39
2016/17    P266, 662, 884. 71
Below is cost of referrals to India.

FINANCIAL YEAR    TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT
2015/16    P5, 000 000. 00 
2016/17    P8, 000 000. 00

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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