‘Tšepong stretched to the limit’
THE government is working towards reducing the number of people seeking treatment at Queen ‘ Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) as it no longer serves its purpose as a referral hospital.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary ‘Mamoruti Tiheli told the Lesotho Times this week that the hospital was unable to cope with the high number of patients requiring treatment.
QMMH, which is popularly known as Tšepong, was opened in October 2011. The hospital is 70 percent owned by Tšepong (Pty) Ltd, a consortium of five companies, while the government owns the remaining 30 percent.
She said according to the agreement reached between the government and South Africa’s Netcare Hospital Group, which holds 40 percent of the Tšepong consortium, QMMH was only supposed to accommodate 20 000 in-patients and 310 000 out-patients annually.
“The agreement between the government of Lesotho and Netcare was clear that QMMH is a specialised referral hospital, but now everybody comes to the hospital without any referral letter,” Ms Tiheli said.
“The hospital is meant to provide tertiary medical services and not primary and secondary care medical services which are offered by clinics and other hospitals.”
She said the ministry was devising a way to decentralise the health delivery system to reduce costs.
“When the hospital was established, the government paid M253 million which increased annually due to inflation. With the extra patients that are now coming, the government has to fork out even more money,” said Ms Tiheli.
“The situation has forced the Ministry of Health to come up with a plan to minimize the costs the government is incurring by ensuring patients with minor illnesses go to the village health care centres.
“If the money paid to Tšepong were to be used to improve the village health centre services by buying equipment and increasing human resources, there would be no need to for people to swamp the hospital.”
She said the ministry would enforce the referral system to ensure that only serious cases would be sent to Tšepong.
“We have to control the number of patients who come to Tšepong since we have health centres in the districts. This, we will achieve by strengthening the referral system so that people don’t just come to the hospital,” Ms Tiheli said.
The ministry, she said, was also working towards making Queen Elizabeth II hospital fully operational to lighten Tšepong’s load.
“Even though Queen II is not yet at 100 percent, since it’s only operational from morning until the evening, we urge people to make ke use of the hospital during the day,” Ms Tiheli eli said.
“The The government is prioritizing the refurbishment hment of Queen II and that process will begin in as soon as all the resources are availed to us. s. Our intention is to make Queen II operate on a 24-hour basis to reduce congestion at QMMHMH and the high costs the government is incurring.”urring.”
Shehe added that the ministry would soon launch nch a campaign to attract Basotho doctors working in the diaspora to return to Lesotho as well as other highly ghly skilledlled health alth profesofessionals. nals.
Health Principal Secretary ‘Mamoruti tiheli.