Public servants must fulfil their mandate

IN last week’s edition of the Lesotho Times we carried a harrowing story about a woman who gave birth in a toilet at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Maseru.

The woman alleged that she delivered the baby in the toilet after nurses had ignored her desperate pleas for help. The baby, who fell on the floor in the loo, subsequently died.

We found the story quite touching.

The circumstances surrounding the death of the baby need to be probed so that the authorities can put an immediate stop to such unnecessary loss of life.We can understand why the mother of the baby is said to be completely devastated.

The death of a child can leave a permanent scar on one’s psyche.The story provides yet another clear illustration of the huge challenges facing our public health system.

As a newspaper we have a responsibility to bring issues of such nature to the attention of the authorities and the public for remedy.Failure to do so would be dereliction of duty on our part.

As a newspaper we will probe and champion the concerns of the poor and down-trodden.As a newspaper we will give a voice to the weak and oppressed.

As we do so we run the risk of being deemed a nuisance by those in positions of authority.We raise these issues following the response that our reporter got from Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng when we contacted her office for a comment on the death of the baby last week.

The minister accused the Lesotho Times of publishing the views and opinions of ordinary people about the state of Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.It is true that we give a voice to the “ordinary” people.It is our objective as a newspaper to champion the views of the masses – the so-called ordinary people.

When the masses speak we expect government ministers to respond and listen to the cries of the downtrodden.Our agenda as a newspaper is to demand that public servants fulfil their mandate and serve the public.We will therefore continue to highlight what needs to be done in the civil service and ensure that lazy public servants are flushed out.We harbour no malice in our approach.

The crisis at Queen Elizabeth II is a national crisis. Lesotho’s health delivery system has been in the intensive care unit for years.Our story published three weeks ago confirmed as much.

The report said the hospital had suspended urgent surgical operations because of erratic power supplies and the lack of basic equipment.

The hospital does not have basic medicines. Machines were said to be breaking down. Morale is said to be rock bottom.The food served to patients is said to be bad.

Doctors at Queen II confirmed that the hospital, built in the 1950s, was virtually on its knees.The sooner we acknowledge this fact the better for all of us.

The challenge for us as Basotho is how do we mend that which is broken? How do we deal with the endemic laziness among our nurses and other civil servants?

Most of the nurses are said to be poorly trained. How do we improve their training so that they do not become a burden to the health system?How do we improve the working conditions of our health workers?

How can we motivate these pathetically paid health workers so as to motivate and retain them here in Lesotho?These are critical issues that need to be discussed.

We can only improve as a nation when we allow healthy debate on some of the issues raised here in this editorial.We would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we allow government ministers to stifle debate on these critical issues.

 Likhomo Basotho!

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