DC govt to reopen medical school: Mokhothu

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Limpho Sello

DEPUTY Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu has vowed that a Democratic Congress (DC) government will immediately set out to revive the Lesotho Medical School to help save the country’s moribund health delivery system.

Addressing about 2000 DC supporters early this week in Roma, Maseru, the DC leader said the reopening of the school would enable Lesotho to train its own doctors and other medical specialists.

It would also train students from other countries and this would earn the country much-needed foreign currency, he added.

“Lesotho needs to have its own medical school, we can’t afford to continue without one,” Mr Mokhothu said.

“Such an institution will save us a lot of money which is currently being spent on sending our students to other countries for training. The money we save will be channelled towards development programmes,” he said.

This is not the first time that Lesotho has attempted to set up a medical school.

The government first established the Lesotho School of Medicine in September 2014.

The institution operated from the National Health Training Centre premises. It was however, saddled with various problems from the onset. These included lack of adequate funding, shortages of qualified teaching staff and inadequate infrastructure and facilities for training doctors.

The school was forced to close down a year later after the Lesotho Council of Higher Education (CHE) refused to accredit it. CHE’s quality assurance committee said the institution could not be accredited because it did not have the capacity to produce such specialised personnel.

The first intake of students, who had just completed their first year, were then transferred to Zimbabwe and Zambia to finish their studies.

DC secretary general Tšitso Cheba reiterated Mr Mokhothu’s pledge to revive the medical school in the event that the DC romps to victory in the elections due in October this year.

“A DC government will work flat out to revive the medical school during its five-year term of office,” Mr Cheba said in a subsequent interview.

“Our government will ensure that all the requirements for the medical school are met before operations resume. I’m talking about technical support from friendly countries that are running similar institutions. Plans are in place and expectations are that once we take over, relevant ministries will come in to assist.”

The introduction of the medical school would go a long way in addressing challenges encountered when the country employs foreign doctors and other specialists. These include the language barrier between them and patients, Mr Cheba said.

He said there were gaps whenever expatriate staff left the country and this would be a thing of the past if Lesotho has its own training school.

Meanwhile, Mr Mokhothu said a DC government would review nurses’ remuneration and pay them according to their qualifications.

“Currently diploma and degree holders are paid the same salary. We will review this and pay them according to their level of education,” Mr Mokhothu said.

He reiterated his promise that a DC government would exploit the country’s natural resources, boost agricultural production for the benefit of all Basotho.

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