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
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.