Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has criticised government for failing again to advance the nursing profession in Botswana with scores of nurses reported to be battling mental issues occasioned the overwhelming battle against COVID-19 pandemic.
The Union came gun blazing during the celebration of the International Nurses Day, which was celebrated virtually due to the contagious COVID-19 pandemic. BONU President, Obonolo Rahube said nurses worldwide have been battling the pandemic, mental health issues and physiological impacts as a result of responding to COVID-19.
The International Council of Nurses called this phenomena the “mass traumatisation” 1 of the global nursing workforce. The union is calling on government to act now and support nurses in addressing these issues, saying that the COVID-19 effect is real and risks damaging the nursing profession for generations to come.
Inadequate PPE, the fear of spreading the virus, high workloads, and increase in violence and discrimination against nurses, post-traumatic stress are said to be the leading causes of mental health distress amongst nurses. Botswana has lost 14 nurses due to COVID-19 and there are more than 200 nurses who have been infected.
Shortage of nurses globally has been a challenge for a long time. For Botswana, the situation if getting worse. BONU President Rahube said: “Botswana has been experiencing a dire shortage of nurses even before COVID-19, but the situation has now moved from bad to worse. We see the government failing even to renew contracts of nurses despite the shortage. As BONU, we are deeply concerned about these developments and we call upon government to act on this matter.”
BONU is somewhat concerned that heavy workloads, and insufficient resourcing, burnout and stress related to pandemic response are the drivers resulting in increased numbers of nurses who have left the profession and increased reported rates of intention to leave this year and when the pandemic is over.
“This is a call to government to invest more on the nursing profession because the future looks execrable to say the least. If the Ministry of Health and Wellness is relaxing like it is happening now the country is going to fall into the drain in terms of the health of the country,” said Rahube.
He urged government to train nurses rigorously as the dynamics of health are keeping up on the toes. There is need to train nurses on different specialized courses as there is need for such in the country, he said.
“There is need to ensure that we hit the ground running as COVID-19 has showed our inefficiencies. As the pandemic is ongoing, we must not forget the lessons learned and together, lobby to make sure that those health system deficiencies are addressed, so we are better prepared to meet similar challenges in the future,” the union leader indicated.
Rahube indicated that the nursing regulating body should review the Nursing and Midwifery Act to ensure that all other important courses including Public Health are included in the Act. “This does not take away that tertiary institutes should align themselves with modern times and introduce in their curriculum courses like public health nursing which can easily be recognized by the Health Ministry.
There is currently a Professional Discrimination against nurses who have acquired Public Health either at Degree or Masters Level in which they are not registered with BHPC without any apparent reason thus leading for our nurses frustrated,” he noted. The union said it is frustrated by the authorities who are still reluctant to allow or issue nurses and midwives private practicing licence.
“Nurses and Midwives has their scope of practice of which allows them to carry out some roles independently. Therefore we urge the Minister of Health and Wellness to address this issue as a matter of urgency as the Director of Health Services duly falls under your jurisdiction.
It is on numerous occasions that we have visited the office without any valid reasons except that nurses are only given licences for nursing homes. Nurses want to contribute economically to the development of this country by opening their own clinics and creating employment which the country dearly needs,” said BONU President Rahube.
On an issue of risk allowance, BONU said it is yet to hear feedback from government, saying that: “We still find it unbelievable that up to now the government has not responded to our proposal on the issue of risk allowance. We know that allowance won’t protect us but it is a form of motivation and appreciation which will make nurses even fight hard.”
The Nursing advocacy group calls on the reset of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It said nurses who take up to 70 percent of the professional workforce in the Ministry would want to see it being reset.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.