Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Ts’epong ill-conceived

Published on April 11, 2014   ·   15 Comments

 LEKHETHO NTSUKUNYANE                                                     




MASERU–Health minister Dr Pinkie Manamolela has acknowledged the timing of the establishment of Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, the country’s referral centre, was not right.


Manamolela was commenting on a report by Oxfam, an international confederation based in the United Kingdom, that has described the hospital as a liability and unnecessarily costly for the government.



Two weeks ago Public Eye published a damning preliminary report by Oxfam revealing the hospital, popularly known as Tšepong, was costly and was not living up to expectations.


Oxfam, which is a confederation of 17 global organisations working together in 90 countries to fight poverty and injustices to humankind, worked in collaboration with the Lesotho Consumer Protection Association (LCPA) and released the final report on Monday this week.



The report indicated Tšepong takes a large proportion of the ministry of health’s budget, while providing high returns of 25 percent to the private investor, Tšepong Proprietary Limited.



It also disclosed Lesotho’s experience supports international evidence that health Private Public Partnership (PPP) projects of this kind “are high risk and costly.”


 The federation advised that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – an arm of the World Bank – should be held to account for its advisory role to the government of Lesotho and for marketing the health PPP as a success internationally.



Now, in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday this, Manamolela indicated the establishment of Tšepong was intended to address issues of congestion, inefficiency and high costs incurred by the government over the now-defunct Queen Elizabeth II hospital.


“The biggest challenge facing the government with Queen II and the entire health services in the country then seemed to have lied mostly with a high number of patients referred to the hospital, rendering it impossible for health service to be efficient.



“It also proved costly to upgrade and maintain the hospital,” she said.


The minister held the view that by establishing Tšepong, the government had not been well advised “because now we are even experiencing more congestion and high costs with the new hospital.



“To me it says, much as Tšepong is commented for being one of its kind in Africa and globally, the timing of its establishment was not right,” she indicated.



She explained to avoid such congestion, patients should first be referred to village health centers (VHC) where there are trained personnel to attend them.


“The patients may not be fully treated at the VHCs and that is when they are supposed to be transferred to local clinics for further treatment”, she showed.



“From the local clinics, the patients are referred to district hospitals, where now it is expected there should be highly competent health practitioners to take care of them.”



Only if the patients are so critical beyond the capabilities of the hospitals can they then be referred to the national referral hospital, Manamolela stressed.


“But with the current situation, patients are taken straight to Tšepong from home because there is no district hospital and both the VHCs and local clinics have not been capacitated well before the establishment of the national referral. The chain is broken,” she contended.



The minister further said it was high time ‘the chain’ is fixed to avoid the congestion, inefficiency and high costs at Tšepong.



“It should have been the first step we took before Tšepong was born,” she insisted.



However, Manamolela revealed to Public Eye there was a cabinet committee recently formed to look into the contract of Tšepong, with a view to renegotiate it.



She added her ministry was engaged to capacitate the VHCs and local clinics to turn the situation around.



Meanwhile, the Lesotho Consumer Protection Association director, Mr Lehlohonolo Chefa, was quoted by the UK-based online newspaper, The Guardian, as saying: “Our government is piling more money into healthcare but not enough of it into rural areas where most people need it.”



Chefa told Public Eye on Wednesday this week the money instead goes into “this otherwise important tertiary facility in the city (Tšepong) and from there into private pockets including one of the world’s biggest health companies (Netcare).”



The Netcare owns bigger shares in the Tšepong consortium.



“Lesotho was promised a better health service for the same price – and that has not happened. Other countries in Africa and indeed all over the world need to look closely at this experiment in Lesotho and be very wary of repeating it,” charged Chefa.


Last week deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing took swipe at the ministry of health, blaming it for the run-down state of the national health services despite the hefty share of the national budget that it receives.



The state of affairs, Metsing pointed out to stakeholders at the briefing on the health care revitalisation programme at the ministry’s headquarters on Wednesday last week, was worrying donors.















Number of Comments(15)

  1. demande says:

    fixing the broken chain,capacitating the VHCs,building the district hospital all require a fair share of funds which unfortunately have been directed to this foreign predator. how are all this going to be attained with the government only remaining with 10% of their budget allocation while 80% belongs to Tsepong?

  2. says:

    minister solutions??????? heish

  3. tlotla says:

    The Government of Lesotho did the right thing to seek expert advice from the IFC. I personally see good intentions from Government to address health problems in the country. Once again for Government to initiate re-negotiations on the contract with Tsepong is commendable. I just hope expert advice will not ill-advice Government this time around. This should be learning lessons for our Government for future endevours. I wonder whether Government is aware that some of poor services at the hospital is due to a dissatisfaction of the workers who are poorly and unfairly remunerated.

  4. George says:

    I’d say her nose is out of joint because these private health groups are showing just how inept the ABC government is in rendering decent medical services and facilities to Basotho.

    So if Lesotho feels the need to distance themselves from the ABC providing suitable hospital facilities, this is even more telling of what they think of the capabilities of this organization being capable of providing badly needed medical facilities in the country.

  5. gadaffi says:

    E ea tshosa Ena bata maobane e nele mohlomphehi metsing,kajeno ke chefa machabeng ka nete Rena le useless ministers ho want only vilifacating Lesotho hoena le ho phutha bohlasoa ntho tseo balibuoang eka be ba libuile ho cabinet ba tlisetse makala a fatse SEO alokelang ho se etsa more budget to vhc and phc hobatlahala ( ministers who are vested in ministries) Keng eo o ka etholang ho benghali (metsing le chefa ) haese linyefolo eseng tharullo n.u.l.e barute hore(political speeches do not build Lesotho only solutions) ke nthoena ea ho akhela motho le hoba ke hokae tshosa litsamae.(focast must be on government job not on surgaries you will see them when your no more minister)

  6. Pontso says:

    @George, get your facts straight. This deal was NOT brokered by the ABC-led government, but by the previous LCD government. I honestly fail to see the ineptitude of this government in this case. They are busy trying to fix the scandalous deals and gross incompetence of the previous administration.

  7. Cedric Mahloko says:

    Its truelly disapointing that by the implimentation of Tshepong,the country(Lesotho)has taken 10 steps forward and 15 steps backward.Recarding the VHCs,there really out to be whole hearted profetionals as most of the present ones are disasterous when it comes to the hospitality that they should offer to the villagers.

  8. Ihlile tsepong ke ntho esele ea sepetlele e entsoeng ho ruisa matona a misisili le bakhotsi BA bona as share holders on the detriment of our nation, I wish its closed with immediate effect because it is a moneymaking scheme not the national hospital

  9. Haaa joale mmuso o lokela ho hleka manyampetla Ana a mccdi le bakhotsi BA hae. Then focus on funding local clinics

  10. L.T. Tjotjela says:

    All is true what the minister is saying that Tsepong was established without clear plans, to make it more clear even the staff salaries do no meet standards of both a referral and a private hospital, let alone the fact that it is below the set standard nurses payment by the government of Lesotho. More sad news is that the very minister and the government at large is aware of this underpay of Tsepong staff but they are just silent and ignoring hence why strikes from Tsepong will never come to an end, taxation is beyond government standard while payment is just below and nobody is taking that into consideration being it the government, minister of health or Basotho people in their relatives’ blood.

  11. Tlakhola says:

    I have never a Minister spew such garbage. I wonder how she lives with herself. What the country needs is more facilities as a solution instead of degrading Basotho. This must rank with Marie Antoinette’s, “Let them eat cake statement when told that peasants are so burdened by taxes, they do not have bread to eat”. Does the Honourable Minister visit these Village Health Centres herself to be treated for a serious illness by these Health Workers that she intends to train? Instead she will fly straight to Joburg by helicopter! There is no problem in building a hospital of QMMH calibre, the solution is to build more health infrastructure of this calibre built, run and managed by Government or better PPP models instead of saying people must quit going to QMMH instead be treated in run-down rondavels by unqualified village people. We deserve better healthcare madam for the taxes we pay!

  12. Tlakhola says:

    The reason the private healthcare industry thrives in this country (and the Minister is a beneficiary of as she has her own private practice in Mohale’s Hoek) is because of poor facilities and poor services, and shortage of doctors. I think she completely misses the point. Instead she gives frivolous solutions, that will not work in a thousand years. Has she seen that patients who go to QMMH are really very sick with illnesses such as Cancer, Drug Resistant TB, etc. I don’t see old ladies in run-down huts treating these illnesses at all. We need more QMMH’s in every district with necessary skills base, doctors and staff and equipment NOT degrading VHC’s. Is the Minister aware that QEII had become a National embarrassment and a National Abattoir. Even Scott would be uncomfortable working in QEII. Built more health infrastructure, equip all hospitals with all equipment that QMMH has, attract doctors and nurses with skills, train hospital technicians, pay them better and deliver quality health services to relieve QMMH. That is the long-term solution that Basotho need and deserve. Do not take people for granted Mrs Minister and offer them treatment in run-down rondavels, you are Government for God’s sake.

  13. Arola Naheng ea Maburu says:

    Take NetCare out of the Tsepong picture and it will not be as costly to run as it currently is.

  14. [...] the case. I was even more pleased to see the Lesotho Prime Minister and Minister of Health publicly expressing their concerns about the project in reaction to the report. The South Africa’s Minister of Health even went on [...]

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