Drug thieves on the prowl

The parliamentarians have called for better ways to bring the problem to an end. The MPs said the theft was so prevalent that they have termed it inside trading of drugs. Contributing to the debate on the 2006/07 budget allocations for the Ministry of Health, Lebonaamang Mokalake said the recurring theft of drugs and other supplies at public health centres now required a better strategy. Mokalake was supported by Robert Molefhabangwe, who suggested that the Botswana Police Services drug and narcotic squad be engaged in the fight against the crime. Molefhabangwe also said the proposed tracking device for drugs-transporting vehicles should be abandoned, and a consignment-tracking system adopted instead. On other issues, Mokalake said although there were some traditional practices that contributed to the spread of HIV, there were also some modern practices that equally played a big role in the escalation of the HIV/Aids problem. He cited alcoholism and other activities that the youth engaged in as central to the problem. He also complained about the state of the Letlhakane Hospital, adding that it was so bad that male and female patients were sharing cubicles. Mokalake also asked about the purpose of ambulances in rural public health centers, adding that in his constituency they were not used to transport patients but health officials to work and home while the intended beneficiaries suffered. Gordon Mokgwathi complained that the equipment used for testing people for the HIV virus was obsolete. He added that distribution centres for anti-retroviral drugs were far from the people, and that some of them could not afford bus fares to collect them because they were poor. Mokgwathi called on the health ministry to devise a way of ensuring that people have access to anti-retroviral drugs. Mokgwathi said the fact that the government had a medical aid system for its employees indicated that there were two health systems in the country, one for the poor and the other for the better off. Pono Moatlhodi said citizen laboratory technicians were discriminated against in favour of expatriates. He said in Nyangabwe Hospital, some highly qualified laboratory technicians were under the supervision of expatriates with inferior qualifications. Moatlhodi complained about the tendency to transfer high performing medical practitioners to ministry headquarters. He said administrative duties did not need someone with a medical background, but that any individual with good management skills could do the job which would leave medical professionals to render services to the public. Moatlhodi urged the health minister to conduct surprise checks in hospitals so she could see the appalling service rendered in many hospitals. Moatlhodi also urged the health ministry to come up with a strategy that would attract citizen medical doctors back home. He said many of them worked in other countries because of unfavourable working conditions, adding that Botswana could not afford to train doctors for other countries. He said the communication breakdown between expatriate doctors and patients was impacting on good health service. He urged the health minister not to employ expatriate specialists who refused to be tested for HIV. Moatlhodi said the construction company upgrading the Scottish Livingstone Hospital was doing a good job as it was well ahead of its construction schedule. However, he said it was unfortunate that the Serowe Institute of Health Sciences had the capacity to produce 30 general nursing graduates but was currently training only 12. Daniel Kwelagobe said the country still lagged behind in the training of physiotherapists yet their services were crucial in the national health system. He said the Molepolole Institute of Health Sciences was in a deplorable state, adding that the redevelopment of the institutions facilities had been postponed three times. Tshelang Masisi called for more attention to be given to the prevention of diseases, including Aids, rather than to advertise antiretroviral therapy. He added that Aids was not the only disease in the country that needed government intervention, as there were many others which deserved similar treatment. Masisi also said Princes Marina and Nyangabwe Referral hospitals were no longer discharging their mandate as referral hospitals because they operated like ordinary hospitals. He attributed this to the lack of district hospitals in the two cities, adding that they were overdue given the overwhelming number of patients requiring health services in Francistown and Gaborone. Meanwhile, a senior police officer has called for the Tribal Administration to become a premier provider of efficient and effective customary court and law enforcement services. Godwin Tlhogo from the Local Police said that this could be done by improvements to the Tribal Administration. He was addressing assistant tribal secretaries at a three-day workshop in Gaborone. He said the workshop was meant to train the officers and equip them with skills to improve high performance through Work Improvement Teams (WITS) Performance Management Systems (PMS) and Performance Based Reward System (PBRS). Tlhogo said Botswana could only achieve the aspirations of Vision 2016 if there was improvement of work ethic and productivity in all organisations, both private and public.

March 2006
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