Nurses,  doctors on go-slow

Nurses, doctors on go-slow

Rose Moremoholo

MASERU-THE government’s plan to fight Covid-19 suffered a major setback this week after doctors and nurses embarked on a go-slow.
This has affected government-owned and funded health facilities across the country.

Although Lesotho does not have a confirmed case of Covid-19 yet, the government is bracing for the disease and is making frantic efforts to prepare for the crisis.

A lockdown has been declared and M700 million has been set aside for the crisis. But without nurses, doctors and pharmacists those plans are likely to crumble and trigger a national disaster.
The health workers say they will not resume the normal schedule until the government provides them with protective clothing to deal with the disease.

This week most hospitals were turning away patients.
The health workers are represented by the Coalition of Health Practitioners.
The coalition met Deputy Minister of Health, ’Manthabiseng Phohleli and the Director of Disease Control, Doctor ’Makhoase Ranyali on March 27.
The coalition requested the government to capacitate health care professionals with training and equipment to fight Covid-19.

The coalition also wants “all health care practitioners who will acquire Covid-19 while rendering health services to be paid full salaries until they recover”.
They want the government to provide adequate protective gear in both public and private sector health centres.
They also want to be consulted on major decisions concerning the Covid-19 because, “we are on the grassroots level, we know what the people need and we know who to approach and who we can use in health care support”.

The Coalition spokesperson, Busa Qhala, told thepost that “all health care practitioners will not attend to all suspected Covid-19 cases” until they get the protective clothing.

Qhala said the Ministry of Health “cannot just come with orders at clinic level without involving us in decision-making”.
“We are not soldiers, we don’t go by orders,” Qhala said.
He said at least 200 heath centres are part of the go-slow and more will join soon.

The Coalition gave the government until 3 April to resolve their grievances but Qhala told thepost that they have not received any response.
He said until the government solves their problems they will not attend to patients except for emergencies “like accidents and incidents that happen now, today and not yesterday”.

The go-slow has increased the pressure on Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital and its four clinics of Gateway Clinic, Qoaling Filter Clinic, Mabote Filter Clinic and Likotsi Filter Clinic.
Mothepane Thahane, Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital spokeswoman, said the clinics and the hospital receive at least 700 patients a day.
“We cannot attend to everyone. We wish people can understand this and be patient,” Thahane said.
She said the numbers of deliveries have increased too because other health services’ care providers are not working.

Thahane said to make matters worse, patients on antiretroviral treatment have thronged the Queen ’Mamohato and its clinics to get their pills.
The Thaba-Tseka District Administrator, Masheane Rapholo, said he is devastated to see patients being denied services.
“ARV patients are stranded as they are running out of their medication,” Rapholo said.
“When they tell you they are left with one more pill you understand their misery.”
“It is like a soldier left with one shot to kill.”
Rapholo said he appreciates that health care workers are fighting for their rights.

“I just hope the government and health care providers come to an agreement and we get back to being offered the best health care services,” he said.

He said he was informed that only children under five years, emergencies and pregnant women will be helped at hospitals and clinics in Thaba-Tseka.
The Maluti Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital has since announced that it will not help outpatients except for emergencies.

“This is because of circumstances beyond our control,” said the notice on the hospital’s main entrance.
’Mantuta Thelingoane, the nurse-in-charge at Nazareth Clinic, said they are only dealing with emergencies.

The Ministry of Health spokesman, Tumisang Mokoai, said the ministry is still in talks with relevant stakeholders and will respond soon.
Mokoai said he saw the frustration and anger of patients at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital yesterday.

Rose Moremoholo

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