THE Ministry of Health this week hired 700 health professionals to augment the work of frontline health workers in the fight against Covid-19.
The hiring of the 700 follows the expiration of the contracts of the first batch that was hired in March this year.
The Ministry of Health resolved to temporarily employ 200 health professionals as part of the government’s Covid-19 response plan. At the time, Lesotho was yet to record a single Covid-19 case hence 200 was deemed adequate. The health professionals were hired to work in health facilities and ports of entry.
Among the professionals are doctors, nurses, health inspectors and nursing assistants. They were all given six months’ contracts which ended in September.
However, with Lesotho’s confirmed Covi-19 cases standing at 1833 as of yesterday, the government decided to extend the scheme and increase the number of health professionals to 700.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times this week, Ministry of Health director human resources Mpontṧeng Mpama-Letsoela said the 700 health professionals’ contracts are all six months’ long.
“We cannot hire full time health professionals because the forecast is that the Covid-19 situation will be stable,” Ms Letsoela said.
“Some of the health professionals who have been hired are from the previous batch but sadly we could not rehire all of them because of various factors among them their performance in the first tenure.”
She said while they would still have wanted to retain more whom they have already trained; some have found permanent employment elsewhere.
Ministry of Health acting director general of health services, ‘Malitaba Litaba said they hired the 700 after a Monday cabinet decision to increase the numbers.
Dr Litaba and Ms Mpama-Letsoela recently clashed with former National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) chief executive officer Thabo Khasipe over the control of the hiring of the temporary workers. Mr Khasipe wanted to handle the processes because he thought it would be quicker to do so.
Dr Litaba however, said they have since resolved that the issue must be handled by the Ministry of Health and the workers started work this week.
“The decision was based on the practicality and ethics of the body that was tasked with hiring the health professionals. If we had left the process to NACOSEC then we would have faced accounting challenges.
“There were directorial liabilities that NACOSEC was going to fail to handle because they do not know much about health issues,” Dr Litaba said.
She said the opening of borders have necessitated the extension of the scheme as the health professionals are expected to assist in managing the influx of traffic primarily from neighbouring South Africa and other countries.
“We are likely to get imported cases which must manage, so the temporary workers will make the job easier,” Dr Litaba said.