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Govt to urgently address Tšepong problems: Mochoboroane

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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Moroke Sekoboto/ Mosoatsi Mosoatsi

THE government will urgently address the acute shortage of life-saving equipment that has seen standards at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) plummeting to unacceptable standards, newly appointed Health minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, has said.

The country’s main referral hospital, also known as Tšepong, also faces a shortage of skilled human resources, Mr Mochoboroane told the Lesotho Times after visiting the hospital this week.

He said he had discovered that the Tšepong Consortium had left with some important medical equipment when its contract was terminated by the government in March 2021.

Mr Mochoboroane said there was no smooth transition when the government took over the running of the hospital last year.

“I inspected the X-ray, ultrasound and other machines and some of them are not functioning and should be replaced urgently,” Mr Mochoboroane said after touring the hospital and meeting the QMMH management.

“The handover was not done properly, and NetCare took some equipment from the hospital. This has worsened the situation.”

Grievances like delayed salaries were also contributing to the problems at the hospital but the new government would change that, he said.

“We are going to change all that.”

There was also a need to change the current procurement procedure where goods are being procured at the Health ministry headquarters. This causes delays due to government red tape.

Therefore, the system must be changed so that the hospital can order medicines and other essentials directly from suppliers.

Mr Mochoboroane had no kind words for the National Drug Service Organisation (NDSO), which he accused of failing to discharge its mandate of ensuring adequate medical supplies at government health institutions.

He said he had engaged the Finance ministry to draft a budget to address the problems at QMMH.

“I know there are also many problems at other government hospitals but we have to respond to emergencies first. QMMH is an emergency.”

The Lesotho Times first reported in October 2021 about the serious fall in standards wherein the hospital now lacked functional equipment to enable specialist staff to diagnose serious illnesses like cancer. The hospital was no longer able to carry out autopsies after the departure of its only pathologist.

Other key qualified staff were also abandoning the institution, reducing the once prestigious, main referral hospital in Lesotho to the level of a mere district hospital.

Mr Mochoboroane said he would soon visit other health centres across the country, after which the government would come up with a long-term plan to improve them.