Health service unhealthy

Bame Piet

Botswana Doctors Union (BDU) and Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) have resolved to approach the Commissioner of Labour tomorrow (Tuesday 8th August 2023) just five days after they decided to embark on a go slow due to a fallout with Government over a dishonoured agreement.

A communique from the Unions issued on 4th August states that the dispute emanates from failure to comply with an agreement signed on 05 April 2023 regarding; Drafting of Doctors emergency call policy; Doctors emergency duty roaster, and Doctors emergency call for duty contract.

The doctors also want the Ministry of Health to come up with a schedule for rest.

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The union and the Ministry of Health and Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) entered into an interim agreement in April in which it agreed to pay doctors 15 percent allowance for emergency duty call which agreement lapsed on July 31.

The DPSM has not delivered on any of the promises and the disgruntled doctors have resolved not work on emergency duty calls.

Last week the ministry proposed to hold meetings with the doctors and agree on the draft policy within 14 days and that the doctors should resume their emergency call duties with immediate effect.

They also proposed to commence consultations after the lapse of 14 days, as well as develop guidelines after approval of the policy.

However, BDU rejected the proposal on grounds that it would not resolve their concerns for an Emergency duty call allowance. They argue that the allowance they are currently getting only accounts for one out of seven calls they attend to in their day to day work.

Meanwhile the Assistant Minister of Health, Sethomo Lelatisitswe, told Parliament on Monday that his ministry has been experiencing serious service delivery disruptions lately and were working around the clock to have issues resolved.

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“Although Government was not able to reach an agreement with the Botswana Doctors Union on all contentious issues last week, we are hopeful that we should eventually find common ground. I anticipate discussions with the unions for nurses and other allied professions in the health sector to also lead us to an amicable solution,” Lelatisitswe said when updating the House on the state of supply of medicines in health facilities.

The Assistant Minister added that the ministry has recently recruited over 100 Pharmacists and Pharmacy technicians to dispense drugs in public health facilities, but it needs at least 1000 more to address their shortage.

He said because of the shortage of the pharmacists and technicians locally and internationally, it will take up to five years to replace nurses and midwives who had been dispensing drugs in public hospitals.

He appealed to health workers to continue serving their country as they have always done in the past as government continues to address their concerns.

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