The Government of Lesotho owes Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein South Africa about M60million for patients being referred by TÅ¡epong to the foreign hospitals. Newsday has learnt.
This was disclosed by the former Minister of Health and a member of Basotho doctors whose company has shares in TÅ¡epong, Dr â€˜Molotsi Monyamane, who also pointed out that the two sides may reach an amicable solution in no less than six months to one year.
According to Monyamane, the debt is a protracted one from which has been accumulating as far back as 2011 the hospital opened its doors to ailing persons for the first time, and has been paid piecemeal.
He said when he left office, there had been an agreement between that administration and that of the South African Free-State province Premier Ace Magashule, albeit verbal, to write-off the debt. Monyamane said when they left office, the debt stood at M30 000 000, adding that no subsequent payments were made for the years 2017,2018, 2019 and 2020,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, approached for a comment, Minister of Health Semano Sekatle confirmed that indeed government has a debt to the Universitas Hospital though he was not sure about the amount.
â€œThe only thing I know is that we do have a debt but for how much we owe you will need to confirm with our finance office or the Director General,â€ he said.
Sekatle indicated that it is important that the ministry pays the debt.
â€œWe have paid some of the debt money and were supposed to have settled by March final. We failed to settle because we have run out of budget now. So we are expecting to settle the debt in the next financial year,â€ he said.
On the other hand, the Director-General of the Ministry of Health Dr Lucy Mapota confirmed that the ministry has a debt as result of patients that were sent to South Africa by the government of Lesotho to seek medical assistance mostly for such illnesses as cancer.
Mapota reiterated the aversion while adding that, in fact the country owed not only one South African hospital but a number of others too.
â€œSo if it is said that we have a debt, we would have a debt in three hospitals being Pelenomi Hospital, National Hospital and Universitas Hospital. We do have a debt in these hospitals, and it was only last month when South Africa requested that we pay,â€ she said.
â€œThe Ministry of Health has paid M61 million to South Africa while the debt was M127 million. I donâ€™t know when the remaining balance will be paid but the financial year is about to start I think it is being processed,â€ she said.