Rehab faces closure

Rehab faces closure

MASERU – LESOTHO’S only rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addicts, Blue Cross Centre, is at the verge of closing due to lack of funds.
This follows the Blue Cross’s refusal to elevate from Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between it and the Ministry of Health to Performance Based Contract (PBC).
Blue Cross director, Thabo Mokhutšoane, told thepost that they did not sign the PBC because it was not based on some of the clauses they disagreed on with the ministry.
Mokhutšoane said they feared that the Blue Cross was being absorbed to become a department in the ministry.

“This affects the Blue Cross’s regulation structure as a whole as it will no longer be a Non-Governmental Organization but some sort of a parastatal,” Mokhutšoane said.
He added: “We totally disagreed to some of the clauses in the contract and if things were done properly, this would not be the reason why we will have to shut down.”
Mokhutšoane said things do not have to end this way.
“The ministry would have at least resorted to a one year contract, MoU or Addendum, and within that period we would develop a new contract that we agree on without having to stop offering services,” he said.

He said being forced to hastily sign the contract shows that “there is a motive behind”.
“They want us to be part of something we don’t want to be part of,” he said.
“Hunger will not be the reason why we rush signing. We do not want to do something we will regret later.”
Blue Cross is funded by the Ministry of Health through a grant but doesn’t have an agreement with the ministry.
“We have been working with the ministry through the MOU which expired and we renewed it through the Addendum, which also expired in December last year,” Mokhutšoane said.

He said since its expiry, nothing has been processed at the ministry and that led to them not getting the last quarter money.
He said this affects their work badly especially now that they have to admit new patients in May.
“We won’t be able to do that if we do not get the money,” he said.
He said that will lead them to having the next group in September, provided there will be funds at that time.

“We have a high number of people who need rehabilitation and we will be wronging Basotho if we keep on postponing their admission at the centre,” he said.
He said deciding to enroll in rehab is the hardest decision ever, “so it is wise to allow those who made that decision to be rehabilitated and not postpone them because chances of finding them once things are back to normal are very slim and anything could happen to them.”
He also said they are liable to pay employees although they will not be offering any services as patients won’t be around.

Mokhutšoane said they are doing all they could to ensure that they reach an agreement with the ministry although it is difficult to meet with the right people at the ministry.
He said the decision to stop funding them should not be done by people who are not supposed to do it.
“If the Minister has such opinion then he should be the one saying that,” he said.

Health Minister Nkaku Kabi said he has been out of office for three weeks and therefore does not have enough information on the developments between Blue Cross and his ministry.
However, he has scheduled a meeting with Health’s Principal Secretary along with Blue Cross Director this week so as to establish where the problem really is.
Kabi said centers such as this “are very instrumental within the ministry and whoever doesn’t realise its importance is a coward who won’t take us anywhere”.

Parliament’s Social Cluster Chairman, Fako Moshoeshoe, said parliament gives the ministry money to support different sections and Blue Cross is one of them.
But if Blue Cross says it runs short of money “then it has a right to go and complain in parliament and we will talk to the ministry so as to find the reasons behind that.”

’Mapule Motsopa & Rose Moremoholo


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