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Medical supply stabilize - Lelatisitswe

08 Aug 2023

The availability of medications in Botswana has significantly improved, says Assistant Minister of Health, Mr Sethomo Lelatisitswe. Making a statement in Parliament on Monday, Mr Lelatisitswe said there was “an acceptable supply of all major medications that were not available for most of last year and the beginning of this year.”

Such medications, he said, included for chronic conditions such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes and others.

Mr Lelatisitswe said the vaccines for children and other extended programme of immunisation (EPI) vaccines, anti-retroviral (ARVs), anti-diarrhoeal medications and Tuberculosis (TB) medications had always been available in good supply even during the time when the situation was dire for other medications.

He said government had been largely successful in bringing medications to the country despite the difficult situation experienced following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is now common cause that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened medication supply globally. Developing countries like Botswana which currently have fewer or no medications manufacturing plants, were the hardest hit,” he said.

Mr Lelatisitswe told MPs that government was taking the issue of medications availability seriously, and that they had been doing all in their power to ensure continued supply of all medications in health facilities.

Despite progress made in medications supply, he said, the health ministry had been grappling with some disruptions to service delivery in the public health space related to some issues of health professionals welfare.

He said some months ago government successfully negotiated and agreed with Botswana Doctors Union for, among others, payment of call allowance.

He, however, said in recent weeks government had received a notice from the Botswana Nurses Union that their members would no longer dispense medications in public health facilities because they felt that continuing to do so would offend certain legislations.

He added that in line with the notice, most nurses and midwives had not been dispensing medications in most health facilities since 1 July 2023.

“I cannot deny that this has affected service delivery in our health facilities,” said Mr Lelatisitswe, adding that it was an unfortunate incident.

In order to address the situation, he said ,the ministry had instructed its legal teams to look at the laws for any possible remedy.

Furthermore, he said, the ministry also embarked on an aggressive recruitment exercise for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and that so far more than 100 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians had been recruited to help dispense medications in public health facilities.

Mr Lelatisitswe, however, noted that there were a few pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the market.

He also said the ministry was engaging relevant stakeholders for resolving the issue. 

“I anticipate discussions with the unions for nurses and other allied professions in the health sector to also lead us to an amicable solution,” he said.

Mr Lelatisitswe also said despite the current challenges, his ministry was committed to giving Batswana quality health services within a reasonable time. ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Bonang Masolotate

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 08 Aug 2023