• “It is not my problem that gov’t did not publicise the arrangement”-Dada.
  • Botswana has serious shortage of health workers -UN COVID-19 report

Lawrence Seretse, Tefo Pheage

The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Goitseone Mosalakatane is not aware that BDP Treasurer Satar Dada will cover overtime pay for the healthcare workers who were dispatched to the latter’s home over the holidays to carry out vaccination of the country’s VIPs.

Dada has told this publication that upon offering his house in the upmarket Extension 11 in Gaborone for COVID-19 vaccinations over the Easter weekend, he was told by the government that although the gesture was welcome, it was not budgeted for.

“I then asked how much they were talking about and was told that it is around P80 000,” he said. “So I said let’s go ahead I will see how I source the funds, and I did. The money was for about 20 health workers who were working at my facility.”

However, the Director of DPSM says she knew nothing about Dada’s arrangement to pay her own staff overtime. “I am not aware of such a gesture but I will investigate,” she told The Botswana Gazette when asked about it.

The unusual arrangement has come under heavy criticism from members of the public. It is criticised for catering to the elite including “Members of Parliament, members of the judiciary and other elders within the proximity of the site”, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Wellness released yesterday (Tuesday).

“I made the gesture upon hearing that there was shortage of facilities as well as numerous reports of people complaining that they often spend seven to eight hours in queues,” he said in an interview. “The facility was open to all citizens, not (only to) Indians and BDP officials, as some claim. That the government did not see the need to publicise the facility or gesture as done with others is not my problem. Had I known that some designated facilities were publicised, I would have asked that they do the same with mine because I hate discrimination and its manifestations.”

He expressed shock that some people saw his gesture in a negative light, saying the criticism contrasted with the positive feedback that he had been receiving.

“I have made several donations to people of this country and they were quite happy,” he said. “I am sure the government will come out to clear the issue of the current donation.”

It has come to this publication’s attention that several senior citizens were vaccinated at the facility, although some of them have said they were not informed of who owned it.

Meanwhile, a recent report by UN Botswana on the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Botswana reveals that one of the major bottlenecks the country’s health system faces is availability and geographic coverage of qualified health professionals.

Botswana has a doctor to population ratio of 5.27 doctors per population of 10,000, representing half of the WHO recommended 10 doctors per 10,000. The density of nurses and midwives to the population is estimated at 54 per 10,000. Urban/rural disaggregates reveal significant disparities in availability of qualified healthcare professionals.

According to the report, the inevitable rationalisation and equitable distribution of healthcare workers in response to COVID-19 in a country already facing shortage of skilled health workers will very likely impact continuity of essential health services.

Further, the nationwide closure of all educational institutions may affect the pool of healthcare professionals by negatively affecting the supply of graduates from health training institutions, it noted. Botswana recorded 25 new COVID-19 related deaths over the Easter holiday, taking the fatalities to 616.