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Rescue Queen ’Mamohato Hospital



THE shambolic state of affairs at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, the country’s only referral institution, is a national disgrace. In fact, each day that passes is confirming how unwise the government’s decision to boot out a South African consortium that was managing the hospital was. With the Tšepong Consortium out, things have spectacularly collapsed at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital. What’s left is a shell of a hospital bereft of any essential equipment and services. The hospital no longer has any equipment to diagnose complex diseases such as cancer or the capacity to carry out autopsies. The hospital’s only pathologist has also walked out, frustrated by the massive bungling by the new administrators. Specialist foreign doctors have also quit in droves. Many others are said to be contemplating quitting as well. Basics such as stationery are also in short supply. Morale is said to be rock-bottom after the government failed to pay hospital staff their August and September salaries and allowances. Yet faced with a crisis of such magnitude, Health Minister, Semano Sekatle, has remained defiant bizarrely telling a local weekly that there was no crisis at Queen ’Mamohato Hospital. Sekatle has remained bullish and has dismissed claims that there is a crisis at Queen ’Mamohato. That in our opinion is not helpful. The government needs to admit that it bungled. Only then can a proper process to fix the mess at Queen ’Mamohato Hospital begin. While there may have been issues with how the Tšepong Consortium managed the hospital, we would like to believe the decision to boot out the group was ill-thought out. It was almost a knee-jerk reaction and possibly a politically motivated move to placate a restless workforce. But this has since backfired with disastrous consequences for Basotho. The messy divorce has now showed that the government had no Plan B. When the Tšepong Consortium walked out, the government had no plan as to how it was going to manage the hospital and ensure continuity. Now we are paying the price. We would like to believe that the buck stops with Sekatle who as Health Minister should have properly advised the government on how they could seamlessly manage the divorce. We knew that this divorce was going to be extremely messy since Tšepong Consortium felt deeply aggrieved. The government should have known this and put in place adequate measures to ensure a smooth handover and continuity of services. That was not done. A few months after the divorce, it has become clear that the current status quo at Queen ’Mamohato Hospital cannot continue. Yet, it cannot go back to Netcare and renegotiate new terms. The bridges have been burnt and relations have been extremely damaged. What that means is that the government must now come up with a totally new plan to rescue Queen ’Mamohato Hospital. That must be done if it is to rescue its battered reputation. We know however that governments have a terrible reputation of running down big institutions. Such institutions are often marked by gross inefficiency and general lethargy. That is why we remain adamant that the government must come up with a better deal that hands the hospital back into private hands to manage it on its behalf. Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital is the only referral hospital that we have in Lesotho and it must not be allowed to die.

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