Tebellong Hospital struggles to cope

Tebellong Hospital struggles to cope

Qacha’s Nek – SITUATED in a mountainous area and surrounded by farmland and scrub-brush, Tebellong Hospital is a hard to reach place for many in dire need of its services. But many people in surrounding communities still make the long and arduous journey there, even choosing it ahead of other facilities.

Its services are so much in demand but difficult to access that some pregnant women travel there weeks ahead of their date of delivery.
’Masoloja Futsoele is eight months pregnant but she is already camped at the hospital.
This will be the 22-year-old’s second child.

Futsoele says she has been attracted to the hospital by its good reputation on maternal health and baby deliveries.
“I had my first baby at Machabeng Hospital but this time around I wanted to have my second baby at Tebellong because of the good work I hear they do,” Futsoele says.

Futsoele comes from Ha-Matlomatse in Qabane and it took her at least six hours to get to Tebellong by car.
Tebellong Hospital is situated in a remote mountainous area in the south-eastern part of Lesotho, 222km away from Maseru.
Established 52 years ago, the hospital serves people from Lesotho’s hardest to reach areas, many with no easy access.
The hospital has had to hire a boat operator to help patients cross the Senqu River.

According to an online review, Tebellong Hospital has an inpatient capacity of 38 beds and takes in more than 1 000 patients per year.
It has recorded 100 percent live births, zero maternal and infant mortality for the past five years, according to hospital superintendent Dr Michael Luaba Kamangu.

Yet, the hospital is struggling with little support from authorities. Built in 1965, the hospital does not have a TB ward and this makes it “very hard” to separate TB patients from other patients, says Director General of Health, Dr ‘Nyane Letsie.

“We know that TB is one of the top diseases that is claiming a lot of Basotho and for the hospital to be unable to monitor the spread of TB makes it very difficult to reduce the number of infections,” says Dr Letsie. Nursing manager, Nthabiseng Ntlama, says the waiting rooms for pregnant women are very few, with limited space and very far from the delivery ward.

“We have three rooms that accommodate four women each and these rooms do not have electricity,” Ntlama says.
“Pregnant women use paraffin stoves to cook and boil water.

In one other room there are no beds so they sleep on mattresses,” she says.
“We had a pregnant woman who gave birth on the way to the delivery ward because the distance from where they sleep to where they report for delivery is just too much,” she says, adding: “It is even worse in winter when it has snowed.”

Dr Kamangu says the electricity feeding the hospital is too weak and whenever there is slight wind the electricity cuts off.
“This damages the equipment we have,” Dr Kamangu says.

“We are the only hospital that has a digital X-ray machine and people from as far as Mphaki come to use this X-ray. We have to fix the X-ray every now and then because of the electricity cuts,” he says.

Dr Kamangu says at times they have to throw away medical drugs because of refrigerators that go off when the electricity cuts.

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