The office of the Ombudsman is investigating a scandal in which the Prisons Service facilities are in the habit of denying inmates medical attention which they are entitled to.
Weekendpost has gathered that the issue escalated to the office of the Ombudsman following several difficulties and outright refusal by the Prisons authorites to allow inmates ot access medical care citing a litany of different flawed reasons.Inhumane treatment of prisoners and lack of adequate medical care have been attacked as inherently cruel methods of punishment in the correctional system.
The office of the Ombudsman confirmed to this Publication that they are inundated with correspondences from Prisoners across the country on the issue.Correspondences between the office of the Ombudsman and Prisoners are not censored by the Prisons Services as is the case with any other.
“We do receive quite a lot of complaints from prisoners incarcerated in all prisons across the country, these grievances are generally the same for both local and foreign prisoners. Our assessment shows that the Francistown branch Office receives the bulk of the prisoner’s complaints to this office. Infact, most of complaints from foreign inmates are received by our Francistown office,” reads a response from the Ombudsman’s office.
The office confirmed that they have recieved several complaints over delayed or denied access to medical attention.Asked on what action they have taken the office said, “We have made recommendations where applicable and have now determined that there is a need for a systematic investigation particularly in issues relating to denial or delayed access to medical attention. This would not be confined to the foreign prisoners only”.
On asking for medical assistance, many prisoners, a source at the office, said they are told to be patient and often accused of creating unnecesary trips. Inmates are completely dependent upon the Prisons authorities for medical attention.
An official from the Ombudsman who wanted to remain anonymous said the deprivation reports from the Prisoners range from delays and denials of care, failure to provide medication and medical devices, lack of timely emergency treatment and denial of specialty care and referrals among others. He added that inmates who are ill are still seen as prisoners first and patients last.
The Chairman of Botswana Institution of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders, BIRRO, Mothei Sejakgomo who is an ex-prisoner himself confirmed the challenges of access to medical attention saying the Prisons authorities cite security issues among others. Asked about whether it is true that inmates often make up stories to take leave from Prisons facilities, Sejakgomo said it is also common for inmates to concoct stories to go outside to unwind and have a temporary free time. “It is commonly known as Zwapo or Gotlhatswa matlho,” he responded.
BIRRO chairman advised that it is important to address all the inadequacies within Prisons health facilities before coming up with stringent policies or decisions. “Most of the clinics inside Prisons are not equipped and that forces inmates to access proper care outside,” he said.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.