- Contracts of more than 150 nurses not renewed
- We are thin on the ground – BoNU
- Embassies vaccinate diplomats and employees
As Botswana prepares for the second phase of vaccinations against COVID-19, the rollout programme faces shortage of medical personnel, with the contracts of more than 150 nurses having expired in March 2021, The Botswana Gazette has established.
On Tuesday (yesterday) this week, the Botswana Nurses Union (BoNU) confirmed that the government had not renewed the contracts of the nurses, who were employed on a temporary basis by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in 2020, to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
“Their contracts expired in March 2021 and they all currently without employment,” the president of BoNU, Obonolo Rahube, told this publication before, adding that there is no indication of these contracts being renewed “It is very unfortunate since we are currently very thin on the ground and the contracts of nurses have not been renewed. We have written to government about it but there has not been any response.”
Rahube believes that the constant change of permanent secretaries at the health ministry is a contributing factor in delays in decision-making processes there. The ministry has had four permanent secretaries in less than a year.
“Every time we are close to finding a solution with the ministry, the PS in charge is changed,” Rahube noted. “This is very frustrating. We need to have stability at the ministry, especially in the midst of such a pandemic.”
“The second phase of vaccinations will begin soon but we do not have resources. Our position is clear: We want to vaccinate the public as soon as possible but we need resources and personnel. We have so many nurses out there who can be employed for that purpose.”
The Coordinator of the COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Kereng Masupu, revealed on Monday that the country is due to begin Phase 2 of vaccinations before the end of this month. Botswana has received SinoVac from China Pfizer, AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccines thus far.
Health minister Dr. Edwin Dikoloti was not available to engage with this publication before going to press.
Meanwhile, as the country struggles with various challenges in its vaccine rollout programme, some foreign embassies are vaccinating their citizens resident in Botswana, including their Batswana employees. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Dr. Lemogang Kwape’s phone rang unanswered when The Botswana Gazette wanted to understand international protocols regarding embassies carrying out their own COVID-19 vaccine rollout.