02.02.17-0BONELA ANTICIPATES GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITIZE HEALTH AND HEALTH SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING IN THE IMPENDING BUDGET SPEECH
BONELA’s interest in the impending budget speech is very much linked to the mandate of the organization which is to work to ensure protection, promotion and fulfilment of the right to health in Botswana. BONELA therefore has a vested interest in resource allocation, particularly for the health sector. It is well documented that health is a cross cutting issue which affects not just the individuals wellbeing, but the county’s economic and social development. Diseases have no regard for boundaries; they affect the poor as well as the rich, working class and the unemployed, leaders and those being led, educated and uneducated alike, therefore our approach to health should be considerate of the fact that its firstly, a human rights issue which affects socio, economic, cultural and religious wellbeing.
While Botswana has not rectified and thereby domesticated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; which deems the right to health one of the rights which should be protected in the constitution, Botswana has a legal and moral obligation to ensure equitable access to health, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations.
BONELA has always held a strong view that health should be allocated a larger share of the national budget. However, BONELA is cognisant of the fact that Botswana is one of the few countries in Africa that have attained the Abuja Declaration commitment of ensuring that at least 15% of the allocation of the national budget goes to health. That notwithstanding, the amount of money allocated has not yet translated to equitable access to health, owing in part to the poor health system; ranging from a lack of adequate and motivated staff, oftentimes manifesting in poor attitudes towards the service recipients, to a lack of human resource capacity resulting in poor performance of the health care system.
The pharmaceutical arm of the health care system is failing Batswana as there are evident flaws in the procurement of health care commodities and the supply chain which fails to guarantee the universal access to requisite services such as medication, condoms, lubricants, HIV test kits and other health commodities. In 2016 alone, BONELA received 19 cases relating to medical malpractice, negligence and wrongful diagnosis, which are all indicative of the ailing health care system. It is therefore imperative that Botswana prioritizes addressing these pervasive weaknesses of the system in order to improve access to quality health care and wellbeing for all.
We therefore need to:
- Ensure sustainability of health care, particularly access to Antiretroviral Therapy for all who need treatment including foreigners. This mean ring fencing money allocated for the procurement of ARVs.
- Prioritize increase investment in prevention of HIV and other diseases. This will help in further sustaining the health care system in the long term.
- Increase human resource capacity for health (nurses and doctors), as the endemic shortage of health care staff debilitates the ability of the sector to deliver better health outcomes.
- Invest resources in health system strengthening in order to improve service delivery.
- Commitment to increase efficiencies in the supply chain management to ensure health commodities reach the service recipients timeously.
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