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Govt in talks to engage SA based doctors

by Lesotho Times
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Limpho Sello

THE Ministry of Health is in talks to engage South Africa-based Basotho specialist doctors on a part time basis as part of efforts of reducing the referral of patients to South Africa as well as improving the overall health delivery system in the country.

Talks on the proposed engagement of the South Africa-based doctors commenced between the two parties during their joint tour of Mafeteng Hospital on Saturday.

Deputy Minister of Health ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli, who led the government delegation, said her ministry had initiated the talks as part of its campaign to improve health delivery in the districts and reduce the referrals of patients to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) in Maseru and to Bloemfontein.

“In that (Saturday) meeting we discussed the ways in which they (South Africa-based doctors) could assist by coming to Lesotho on a part time basis to attend to our patients instead of the patients always being referred to SA,” Ms Phohleli said.

“Our visit to the Mafeteng Hospital on Saturday was aimed at identifying the gaps in the equipment so that we procure everything that is needed. We asked the doctors to compile a list of the necessities so that we will be able to advertise for tenders for the procurement of the equipment to enable the specialists to do their work.”

Ms Phohleli said it was very important for the specialists to work closely with local doctors to ensure that patients are attended to and that they are not misdiagnosed.

“I’m saying this because we realised that there is also a challenge where patients fail to express themselves to medical practitioners resulting in situations where they misdiagnosed.”

Ms Phohleli said it was only sensible to engage the South Africa-based doctors because in most cases they attended to Basotho patients when they were referred to South Africa. She also said that in any event most of the doctors frequently visited their families in Lesotho so it would be good to take advantage of the time when they were in the country to get them to treat patients.

“When our patients are referred to South Africa, they are usually attended to by the same specialist doctors. We therefore saw it fitting to engage the doctors and ask them to come and attend to the patients in Lesotho.

“This will also help to curb the long procedural delays that are sometimes experienced by patients when they are referred to South Africa. The patients can also delay in receiving treatment due to the long distances they may have to travel to South Africa.

The engagement of the specialist doctors will begin at the Mafeteng Hospital but the plan is to extend the programme to all the hospitals,” Ms Phohleli said.

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