Mochoboroane bemoans health human resources



MASERU – The most outstanding gap in the provision of health services in Lesotho is critical shortage of human resources, particularly medical doctors, said the Minister of Health, Selibe Mochoboroane, at the 71st Health Ministers conference in Maseru this week. Mochoboroane said there is urgent need to develop human resources in all areas of specialized health care but prioritising obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesia, surgery and internal medicine. This he said should lead to the establishment of the Lesotho Medical School, which is a priority to commence postgraduate training in Lesotho. Mochoboroane said during the Covid-19 era Lesotho experienced gaps ranging from critical shortage of staff, inadequate infrastructure, drugs and medical supplies.

He said this has led to the disruption of other essential health services such as maternal and child health “and as we recover from Covid-19, we need to strengthen our systems that were totally overwhelmed by the pandemic,” he added. For his part World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative, Dr Richard Banda, said many countries in the region still lack the infrastructure needed to provide universal health coverage, key among which is lack skilled health workers. He said: “They lack quality medicines and medical products, where many people incur catastrophic health expenditures because they must spend more than 10 percent of their household budgets on healthcare.”

He said to ensure that universal health coverage works for all people and communities, they must pick up the pace in financing and strengthening health workforce, community health systems and essential medicines. Dr Noel Chisaka on behalf of World Bank said the bank focuses on sector development and cuts across all sectors in terms of financing support to all member countries. He, however, noted that when it comes to health, they focus on health systems, including support for mental health, emergency preparedness and response, human resources for health and bringing universal health coverage to all populations. In addition, Dr Chisaka said when it comes to financing, they do acknowledge that governments remain the main drivers of health financing, but government resources are limited.

“Investment in health as an investment in development will provide our people with the opportunity to defeat poverty and improve possibility in our countries, so different sectors of ministries need to support increased resources and ensure that those resources are used effectively and efficiently, to provide the required services of good quality to the population,” he said. Speaking at the same event, Deputy Prime Minister Justice Nthomeng Majara, on behalf of the prime minister, said the past Covid-19 experience, demonstrated an urgent need for all to strengthen health systems, relying mostly on locally available resources. She noted: “Because we have realised that relying on other countries for support during pandemics is not sustainable, we are aware that as a region, we were the last ones to receive Covid-19 vaccines for our citizens and, because of the delays, many of our citizens lost their lives, which might otherwise have been spared.”

Furthermore, Justice Majara indicated that every citizen should have equal access to essential health services, so that they are not forced into a worse-off situation, mostly as a result of costly health services. “We all need and we all have a right to attain universal health coverage, and we should leave no one behind, hence the need for us to build resilient health systems,” she said. Though health is a fundamental human right for all individuals, the rich have better access than the poor, she said, adding that access to health, particularly to rural communities, needs skilled human resources who will act like extended physicians.

She said as Lesotho, they feel that they need to accelerate and strengthen interventions that will improve the health status of the country. “As we transfer skills, I hope we ensure sustainability of the positive efforts because failure to sustain them has resulted in deteriorating health outcomes and high incidence of mobility and mortality. We need to come up with implementable solutions which cut across our respective countries,” she explained. She, however, noted that there is a need for developed skilled and adequate human resources for health at all levels of service delivery and introduce retention strategies. Again, to develop adequate infrastructure for both prevention and super specialised health services, strengthen diagnostic capacity and decentralise health services for promotion of community engagement and participation. The government of Lesotho hosted the 71st Health Ministers, four decades after Lesotho lasted hosted it in 1976.

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