Friday, January 22, 2010

Just what we need- Another Private Hospital in Botswana

For a few weeks now Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone has been getting free advertising on Botswana Television news thanks to my tax money. Apparently it is owned by the big medical aid schemes in Botswana and managed by some American hospital conglomerate called OR International. That explains why every person from the hospital interviewed on BTV has an American accent. Great- let's emulate the American health care system because it's doing such a fine job.

One wonders which bigshot politician also holds shares in the Hospital so that BTV could be used as its defacto PR department. Goes back to transparency and the declaration of assets something Botswana politicians pretend is a silly notion from the even sillier and irreverent media.

For people outside of Botswana let me give you a bit of information about health care in Botswana. We have a very large and widespread public health care system. There are clinics in most villages where basic health care is provided. In larger villages and towns there are quite substantial hospitals. In Mahalapye, where I live, we had quite an old hospital but it was recently replaced with a big, modern new one. Service is sometimes poor, but occasionally excellent, much depends on the staff.

I delivered both of my children at the old Mahalapye Hospital and it was fine. For my daughter the labour was quite long, more than two days, and when she was finally born she had an Apgar score of 2. Thanks to the quick work and knowledge of the nurse and doctor on duty my daughter is fine. I knew a woman who delivered her son in Gaborone and he too was born with an Apgar score of 2, he is profoundly retarded, unable to sit, or do anything for himself. It all depends on the staff.

We pay a small fee and all expenses are included in that fee. Recently at Princess Marina Hospital, the government hospital in Gaborone, heart surgery was done for the first time. The patients paid nothing.

I think what Botswana has done in terms of health care is quite remarkable. It is not perfect, but they know this and are trying to improve. Training people to become doctors, nurses and other health professionals takes a substantial part of the government's education budget. One of the biggest problems, though, is retaining staff. The civil service tries to pay what it can, but it cannot compete with private organisations.

And now we have Bokamoso Hosptial. So the government trains doctors and nurses at their expense (our expense) so that a private hospital can employ them. Compounding this is that only the wealthy can afford medical aid, 1 out 18 Batswana have medical aid. So the other 17 of us go to the government hospital where there are no doctors or nurses because they have gone off to the greener pastures of Bokamoso Hospital.

Private health care in general has a detrimental effect on the public system. The most educated go to private health care providers. These people are often the ones who feel they are in a position to complain about poor service. They too are often the ones making decisions about the public health care system, decisions that will not effect them.

The commercials/news stories on BTV about Bokamoso Hospital show all the fancy equipment the hospital has. I'm sure they are important but I learned from experience that machines in the end are not what make the difference, it is the quality of the personnel. Sadly, they may end up having a monopoly on that too.


Anonymous said...

'They too are often the ones making decisions about the public health care system, decisions that will not effect them.' Such a telling statement. I think it is also true of the public vs private system in Australia. I am not a fan of the private system at all. I am sorry to hear this private hospital may affect your local services.

bonita said...

umm from my're lucky to have a public system that can be usurped...

Lauri said...

Bonita you make a point. Selma honestly, I just don't think healthcare and education are things that should be in private hands. It skews things in an unhealthy way.

Gutsy Living said...

As you said, here in the U.S. we are no longer sure what's happening except that we always seem to be paying more and more and getting less and less. No wonder so many do not get insurance. In Belize, my son was treated and they asked for a donation. That was it. Please come over as I have an award for you.

Helen Ginger said...

Definitely don't follow the American system. Healthcare is controlled by those with money and money is given to lobbyists who give it to politicians who stop healthcare reform then retire with their lifetime private care. Just one peon's view.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

i welcome the private from public hospitals suck right from the standards to the staff.and i went to a private school and public school big difference there too so let people choose.

Lauri said...

Anonymous- service is a term defined by the beholder. Service motivated by profit when it comes to healthcare and education is problematic for me. If you want to see our future look to America.

Anonymous said...

i whole heartedly agre. be it education, health, or any other services- private vs public is a selfish atempt at availain th best for a select few. its especialy insulting for policy makers to recomend services tht they themselves hav thot inferior.this is evident in the fact that none and without exception use thes inferior services! this is the case the world over and im sure-in my naive wisdom- it can change. the change comes when the man who life has dealt a beter hand cares about the less fortunate as though that man-and by extension, his wife, son and daughter- was his own reflection. but then again reality is a complicated simplicity!BTW, that man who is better off is me and you.

ke utlwa ke tlhajwa ke ditlhong! truly, im more often than not embarrased at the realisation that the human family fails in point:nna! i chose to run away:ee! ke sietse mo mahatsheng ebile ga ke re theke! with that i hope it is understood that im lashing at myself for entertaining indiference and hiding behind powerlesnes.

how long before we realise that his humanity is tied down to mine? to add to what tutu said, how much i deny myself by refusing tht one? all my live i have asked myself how my elders had not realised this truth. but then again, i will not judge them harshly because doing so would require that (in the name of justice) i immediately condemn myself. im worse than they are because im the only person i can be sure can hold themselves to their own failings and seek redemption by charting out that higher order. ka goreng? nothing else will do!
*sheds a tear*

O se ka wa re isa mo thaelong, mme O re golole mo bosuleng.
Gonne puso, thata, kgagalelo
ke tsa gago go sena bokhutlho.
*sheds a tear*