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Mochoboroane takes victory lap


Ntsoaki Motaung

Health Minister Selibe Mochoboroane has announced groundbreaking measures aimed at addressing the country’s chronic shortage of medical professionals.

Revealing significant strides made under his leadership, Mochoboroane highlighted the ministry’s success in bolstering the medical workforce and resolving longstanding grievances among healthcare professionals.

“Upon assuming office, we faced a critical shortage of medical doctors and specialist consultants, posing a grave threat to public health,” he stated.

“However, through tireless efforts, we have significantly augmented the number of specialist consultants across our hospitals,” he added.

Highlighting a pivotal achievement, Mochoboroane underscored the resolution of a protracted dispute regarding on-call allowances for medical doctors.

The Lesotho Medical Association (LMA) members, comprising medical doctors, have intermittently ceased overtime duties over the years due to the Ministry’s failure to fulfill the agreed-upon disbursement of call allowances.

This struggle stemmed from the Ministry’s consistent failure to pay call allowances to doctors since 2019, exacerbating the growing tensions between healthcare professionals and the Ministry.

“When I got into office, there was a significant issue concerning medical doctors who had been diligently working for five years without receiving their entitled on-call allowances,” explained Mochoboroane.

“Addressing this critical issue took us eight months of concerted effort,” he added and indicated that however, the process was fraught with challenges, primarily due to the lack of sufficient funds.

“Those who claimed to have filed for their allowances faced complications because their filings were not done correctly, leading to queries from the approving authorities,” the minister stated.

“Additionally, there was the challenge of sourcing funds to fulfill these allowances as they were not budgeted for initially. Despite these hurdles, we successfully resolved the issue, and medical doctors are now receiving their rightful on-call allowances,” he added.

Commenting on the minister’s remarks, Dr. Makhetha Lephahamela, Secretary-General of the LMA, confirmed to Newsday yesterday that the ministry of health had indeed disbursed doctors’ allowances.

“The issue regarding on-call allowances has been resolved. We are pleased with the outcome and no longer face challenges in receiving our allowances,” expressed Lephahamela, affirming the resolution of the longstanding dispute.

During an interview with Dr. Mojakisane Ramafikeng, a member of the Lesotho Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy Council (LMDPC), he articulated the profound dearth of medical professionals, including specialists, within the nation.

Ramafikeng conveyed that as per the council’s maintained records, a mere 520 registered doctors are tasked with serving an estimated populace of 2 million individuals.

“This shows a significant shortage because not long ago the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulated that the doctor-to-patient ratio should ideally be 1:1000, yet ours surpasses this by far,” he said.

He further advocated for increased investment in educating citizens interested in pursuing careers in the medical field.

He highlighted the dire situation, particularly regarding specialists, noting that some areas in the country lack even a single specialist.

“Investing in cultivating our own doctors and specialists will mitigate the need to transfer patients abroad, as we will have the capacity to provide comprehensive care domestically,” he asserted.

According to the findings and lessons gleaned from the 2017 Public Health Sector Expenditure Review conducted by the World Bank, the ratio of doctors to the population in 2017 stood at a mere 0.9 per 10,000 individuals.

Similarly, for nurse-midwives, the ratio was recorded at 10.2 per 10,000, both of which fall significantly below the WHO AFRO regional average of 2.6 and 12.0, respectively.

This dismal state of affairs has had a profound adverse impact on the government’s ability to deliver quality health services.

Meanwhile, amidst these concerning statistics, the health ministry has received an allocation of M3.4 billion for the 2024/25 fiscal year.

Additionally, the Compact II is set to further bolster the health sector with a substantial injection of $75 million (equivalent to M1,462.5 billion).

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