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Asbestos exposure causes hospital exodus


Ntsoaki Motaung

Following the heavy rains that hit hard at the Seochoche Hospital in the Butha-Buthe district, some of the patients were transferred from the Hospital to nearby hospitals after being exposed to asbestos which is said to have a negative impact on one’s health.

In an interview with the Advocacy and Communications Officer Lebohang Liphapang of Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL), indicated that not the entire hospital was affected.

“The affected areas are the wards for in-patients. As for OPD, out-patients and maternity wards, services are still continuing.

“It is advised that patients that need to be kept at the hospital even for at least a night go to the Butha-Buthe Hospital or Motebang Hospital in Leribe. Even the patients that were there when the incident happened, were also transferred to Butha Buthe and Motebang Hospitals,” she said.

She stated that, it is only 70% capacity of the hospital that has been transferred to Butha-Buthe Hospital and Motebang Hospital.

She however indicated that she is no position to tell how much will cost for the hospital maintenance.

“The maintenance of Hospitals in the country are currently done by LMDA and that means it is LMDA that can say how much can be the costs after their assessment,” she said.

Liphapang said as recently planned all employees and patients that were exposed to Asbestos will be taken to an assessment scan to see if they have been affected or not.

Meanwhile, the Matron for Butha Buthe Hospital ‘Majulia Seutloali, indicated that she would not say patients being transferred to their facility had made a significant impact to their daily routines.

“It is just adding a number to the number of patients we already had. But there is no much pressure one could complain about. It is true we already have water problems but we still manage to do our daily work,” she said.

Seutloali indicated that, the water crisis has been ongoing for many years and that the Ministry knows about it.

“The Ministry knows about the water crisis but so far no solution. It happened that last year workers went on go slow where in-patients were not admitted and only those who did not require to be admitted were attended as a result of the water crisis,” she said.

On the other hand, ‘Mateboho Phatšoane in the Department of Environment at the Ministry of Health indicated that, the details on whether the patients transferred from Seboche Hospital were affected or not can only be confirmed by a doctor.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).

“Exposure to asbestos occurs through inhalation of fibres in air in the working environment, ambient air in the vicinity of point sources such as factories handling asbestos, or indoor air in housing and buildings containing friable (crumbly) asbestos materials.”

“About 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. In 2004, asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis from occupational exposures resulted in 107,000 deaths and 1,523,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). In addition, several thousands of deaths can be attributed to other asbestos-related diseases, as well as to nonoccupational exposures to asbestos.”

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