Indian hospital group bids to assist Lesotho

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Limpho Sello

A TEAM of doctors from an Indian group of hospitals has committed to assist the government in building the capacity needed to provide all healthcare needs in the country.

The seven doctors, from the Apollo Group of Hospitals, arrived in Lesotho on Monday to assess the country’s health services needs and come up with an action plan to assist the government.

They toured health centres in Maseru, including Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH), Queen Elizabeth II District Hospital and Maseru Private Hospital accompanied by Ministry of Health officials.

Yesterday, the doctors were expected to go to Motebang Hospital in Leribe and Queen Elizabeth II District hospital to undertake various health procedures. They are expected to return to India today.

Apollo Group of Hospitals is headquartered in Chennai, India and runs 64 hospitals in the subcontinent nation, Bangladesh, Kuwait and Qatar. It is regarded as a pioneer of private healthcare in India and among the first hospital groups in the country to receive international healthcare accreditation.

Addressing the media during the tour, Apollo Group of Hospitals Director Medical Services, Dr L R Sharma, said they came to Lesotho to assess how they could collaborate with the government.

He said they could only come up with a framework to give assistance after identifying the gaps in Lesotho’s health delivery system.

“We are very much willing to assist the Ministry of Health with the expertise we have in ensuring that Basotho get the best health services they deserve,” Dr Sharma said.

“For instance, QMMH is a well-established hospital, but we realised that various specialised services are lacking.We also realised that there areskilled human resources and technology shortagesat the hospital.”

The hospital group’s Cooperate Development Vice-President and International Business Head, Dr Harinder Singh Sidhu, said while Lesotho hadinvested immensely in healthcare infrastructure, a lot still needed to be done in the provision of cancer, urology and cardiology services.

He said the intended outcome of their assistance was for Lesotho to no longer need to refer patients with conditions such as cancer to South Africa for chemotherapy. Dr Sidhu added that they were mulling offering exchange programmes to local health practitioners to alleviate the skills shortage.

The Ministry of Health’s Health Services Director-General, Dr Nyane Letsie, told the Lesotho Times thehospital groupwanted to assist the government’scapacity buildingin the healthcare sector.

“The doctors are here to assess our hospitals because of their expertise in the care of people with ailments such as cancer, kidney and heart diseases among others.They can be of great assistance to the Ministry of Health and the country in general in helping us fight the disease burden,” she said.

“They looked at the hospitals’ capacity in terms of technology, equipment and human resources.They also talked with doctors in the country to hear how they can best assist them.

“After they complete theassessment and consultation process, we will then discuss with them and, upon agreement, come up with an action plan on how we will work together.”

Dr Letsie said during the tour, the doctors suggested ways of cutting costs when buying health equipment. She, however, stressed that their role would be determined by the government.

“We have already conducted discussions with them, and just need to agree on how we will work with them.Whether they will come back or not will be determined by us,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is set to sign an agreement with the Chinese government for the provision of support on telemedicine on 25July 2016. Telemedicine refers to the delivery of health services using communication technologies such as telephone or the Internet. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.

According to Health Minister Dr ‘Molotsi Monyamane, the agreement would help people staying in hard-to-reach areas access medical services without having to visit a health centre for consultations. – Additional reporting by LeNA.

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