Government has made strides in improving health service provision across the country. Addressing kgotla meetings in Lobatse recently, Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele said, from a few health facilities back in the days, the country now prides itself in having 565 clinics and health posts. Dr Madigele said government had ensured that medical facilities were closely accessible to all, and made sure that clients did not walk more than five kilometres to access health services. He noted that at least 90 per cent of clients across the country access these medical services within the stipulated 5 kilometers.
Dr Madigele said the health sector now had close to 20 000 employees countrywide and 10 000 were nurses, noting that this was a commendable growth in staff turn-over and retention.
The assistant minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Molapowabojang-Mmathethe told Lobatse residents that he was, however aware of shortage of health practitioners, especially medical doctors throughout the country.
He acknowledged that most Batswana who graduated as medical doctors prefer to go into private practice or work outside the country, due to low wages in the country. The University of Botswana Medical School, he said, has graduated close to 35 medical doctors in the past academic year and would this year again graduate close to 40. The Medical School, he said, was established to solve the shortage of medical practitioners which had for a long time bedeviled this country. “The graduation of locals in this field would assure improvement in the availability of doctors across the country,” he added.
He said he was hopeful that as the medical practitioners graduate from the medical school, they would assist in health service delivery across the country. On HIV/AIDS issues, Dr Madigele stated that out of the 565 medical facilities in the country, 561 of them have been mandated to dispense Anti-Retroviral drugs and are testing and counseling centres. This, he said was a commendable effort as it would ensure that the country wins the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
He noted that his ministry had come up with Option B+ strategy, in which an expectant mother who starts the PMTCT programme would continue taking Anti-Retroviral medication even after birth, as a way of reducing new infections and ensuring that the patient’s viral load does not go down. Dr Madigele said the ministry was aware of the shortage of accommodation for health officials across the country, a thing, he said demoralizes workers. To address the problem, he said the ministry would build 200 staff houses in the current financial year, with priority being given to remote areas. He implored residents to lead healthy lifestyles, be responsible for their health and always take medical doctors’ instructions.