By Limpho Sello
THABA-BOSIU — The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with its partners, has completed the primary healthcare data collection and analysis, an exercise which is going to help identify challenges affecting primary healthcare service delivery in the country.
This follows last year’s call by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who urged the ministry to work towards identifying challenges that were compromising primary healthcare.
The Ministry of Health held a stakeholders workshop this week to discuss the outcome of the data collection exercise, which was done early this year — and the recommendations made.
One of the data collectors, Thabelo Masithela who is the principal pharmacy technician at the Lesotho Flying Doctors said only one clinic in Matebeng was left out during the exercise.
“It was really hard to reach. However, generally we found that there is a shortage of pharmacists at almost all clinics and in some cases unqualified workers are the ones dispensing medicines.
“We also found that some clinics were unable to properly store medicines,” Masithela said.
In an interview, the Maseru District Health Inspector, Bulara Mojakhomo, who was also part of the team that analysed the data, said during the data collection exercise challenges were identified in the pharmacy, human resources and infrastructure areas.
“After analysing the data, we found that there were weaknesses in the functionality of pharmacies, there was a shortage of public health assistants and also infrastructure-related problems.
“These, as we analysed the data, are the major barriers to quality primary healthcare,” Mojakhomo said.
He said while having all required staff at all clinics was critical, public health assistants played a major role of ensuring the inspection of settlements and health facilities. They also provide advice to the public on good health practices.
“For example, washing of hands with clean water after visiting the toilet is an important factor in the prevention of diarrhoea.
“Therefore, it is important for people to have access to clean water and have public health workers to continue raising awareness on the importance of hygiene. On the other hand, poor living conditions are also attributed to the spread of Tuberculosis.”
Mojakhomo said if taken seriously and practiced efficiently, public and environmental health can improve the quality of life and reduce the number of patients congesting many clinics.
“Prevention is better than cure.”
The Data analysts who have been examining the information at the Pitsong Institute of Research Implementation in Thaba-Bosiu also made recommendations that would be incorporated in the final report.
The report will soon be officially handed over to the Ministry of Health.
In their recommendation, the data analysts said there was need to increase the positions of public health personnel to help improve the performance of the sector.
Commenting on the shortage of public health assistants, the head of the Public Health Nursing Services, Malebohang Lemphane, said efforts would gradually be made to ensure the strengthening of the identified weak areas.
“All the concerns cannot be addressed within a short period of time. What this means is that there are areas we can work on in the short-term and others in the medium and long-term.”