- Says shortage of medicines is a matter of life and death
- MoH blames it on COVID-19
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) has called on President Mokgweetsi Masisi to fire incompetent officers for their failure to procure medicines and drugs for public health facilities.
The Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness (MoH), Sethomo Lelatisitswe, recently told Parliament that public health facilities were running short of medicines and condoms, saying the situation was being addressed.
According to BONELA, the situation got worse after the outbreak of COVID-19.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week, the Executive Director of BONELA, Cindy Kelemi, said those responsible for the dearth of drugs and medicines should be fired.
“There is a serious shortage of medicines,” Kelemi said. “Whether you are talking about hypertension medication or anti-retroviral drugs, there are shortages. This is a concern for us because BONELA exists to ensure that the right to health is made a reality in Botswana.”
“The question we often ask is what the ministry is doing to address this, especially for people in hard-to-reach areas? We have always maintained that we have not explored fully our procurement potential, including looking at the private sector.”
She added that in addition to medicines and drugs, condoms are also in short supply at public health facilities. “We have had condom shortages since last year and we were informed that logistical problems were preventing distribution of a donation through the US embassy,” she said. “Central Medical Stores must understand that this is a life and death situation.”
Kelemi expressed hope that the budgetary vote for MoH being the largest, medical supplies to public health facilities will be replenished.
“But we had this problem even before COVID-19,” she noted. “This goes to show that we can throw money at a problem when there are underlying problems.”
The Chief Public Relations Officer at MoH, Dr Christopher Nyanga , has acknowledged the shortage of medicines and drugs at public health facilities but blames it on COVID-19 slowing down production and delivery timelines.
“Health facilities in Botswana and across the world have been experiencing shortages and delayed delivery of certain drugs and medical supplies,” Nyanga said.
He added that the problem has become more pronounced since the last quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year.