MPs want decrepit Mohlomi facility overhauled



MASERU – Mohlomi Hospital’s depleted infrastructure and equipment have come under the spotlight, with Members of Parliament demanding answers on plans for its refurbishment. Mohlomi Hospital was constructed as a national mental health institution around 1960, with its first patients admitted in 1965 from Mohale’s Hoek Prison. It was then used to house mental health patients, with the exclusion of forensic patients – the official opening was in August 1966 and the facility named after Mohlomi, King Moshoeshoe I’s advisor and doctor.

The facility has a 120-bed capacity, 35 in the male ward, 35 in the female ward with the geriatric ward housing 15 patients and the forensic ward 35, though most, if not all the times, the facility is reportedly overcrowded. The forensic ward is currently occupied by 80 patients. The forensic ward started operating in 2011 when all patients who remained at the Mohale’s Hoek Prison Mental Unit were brought to be housed at Mohlomi’s new forensic unit.

The patients at Mohlomi are attended to by four doctors and a single PIH psychiatrist that visits the facility once a week.

During the question and answer session in the National Assembly last week All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislator, ’Mathabo Seatile, inquired from the health minister about the state of the mental institution, and particularly of the shabby state of its equipment – and asked how soon the situation would be addressed.  The MP further wanted to know how soon the relevant ministry would ensure cleanliness of the facility to ensure proper hygiene, and how soon the sufficient supply of items including beds or bunkers, blankets, food supplies and warm water for bathing at the hospital will be facilitated.  The government’s response by the Minister of Education, Professor Ntoi Rapapa, on behalf of the health minister Selibe Mochoboroane stated that the ministry is aware of the state of infrastructure and equipment at the hospital. Rapapa said the facility had mostly been destroyed by psychiatric patients and called for periodic replacement.

Rapapa said that the hospital has, among others, procured 100 blankets for the patients in the just ended financial year. These were received on March 8.  According to the minister 200 more blankets have been budgeted for in the current financial year to accommodate all patients admitted this year. “The hospital has admitted more patients, exceeding its capacity.  Therefore, there is a need to procure beds and mattresses. The hospital’s management has budgeted for these non-office furniture to be procured in this current financial year, with new furniture to be purchased from time to time,” he said.

Regarding the provision of food to patients admitted to Mohlomi, Rapapa said the Ministry of Health currently has a catering contract with Ha Rona Catering Services which ensures that patients are all fed, a partnership the ministry plans to terminate owing to its unsatisfactory services. “The contract commenced on November 1, 2019, and ends on 30 June this year. Due to unsatisfactory services and the poor quality of food provided, the hospital management does not wish to renew the contract of the current catering company,” he added.

He further noted that the general cleaning materials and two grass cutting machines for the hospital have been procured and the goods were received on March 9. Speaking on the cleanliness of the hospital, Rapapa said the hospital has 30 hospital assistants who clean the hospital’s surroundings and keep the hospital premises habitable.  The minister listed another challenge faced by the hospital as inadequate provision of hot water in the female ward, resulting from a leaking geyser. A worker at Mohlomi Hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity told Public Eye overcrowding and lack of mental health specialist workers as the main of the facility’s problems.

The source said for ages early diagnosis and management of depression has remained a challenge at the hospital due to understaffing.  The source also noted that overcrowding puts patients at risk of infecting each other with communicable diseases. Also articulating that sometimes all admitted patients are placed in a single ward, creating a massive health risk as patients are brought to the facility with their next-of-kin unaware that they carry infectious diseases.

“The overcrowding is also an indication that mental health is a problem in our country, with a lot of people in denial and failing to seek medical attention early. We, therefore, need to enhance mental health education programmes a lot more and to strengthen our primary health care,” he said. The source was quick to point out the need for the extension of the facility to accommodate more patients, with a total overhaul of the old present structure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *