MASERU — Health and Social Welfare Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng on Friday officially handed over three filter clinics to a private operator.
The clinics — Likotse, Qoaling and Mabote — will be run by a local company called Ts’epong.
The three clinics as well as a referral hospital scheduled to open in 2011 are government institutions that will be operated by private sector partners under the Public Private Partners (PPP) agreement.
The new referral hospital will be operated by Netcare, a South African health group.
“We have been anxiously looking forward to this day since 2008, when the Public Private Partners agreement was signed with our partner Ts’epong,” Ramatlapeng said.
“At that time this day seemed so far off, but here we are today officially handing over the clinics to Ts’epong.”
She said the new referral hospital and the three filter clinics will remain public institutions although they will be run by private partners.
“As I said during the signing of the agreement, the government opted for this arrangement because of its conviction that the private partners will bring the culture that will ensure provision of services of high quality,” Ramatlapeng said.
Speaking at the same occasion, the senior country officer for the World Bank, Husam Abudagga, said the World Bank has been a strong supporter of the partnership between the government and the private sector in improving the health sector.
“Under our health sector reform programme, we have provided technical assistance for the design and management of the PPP,” Abudagga said.
“International Finance Corporation, the bank’s private sector arm, was contracted for the process.
“The bank will also provide US$6.25 million to finance services provided by the three filter clinics through the Global Partnership for Output-Based Aid programme.”
The chief executive officer of Ts’epong, Selikane Motseko, said they were committed to providing quality services to the public.
“We are confident that we will achieve what is set for us to deliver. For the past two weeks we have seen 400 patients a day,” Motseko said.
The representative of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Banny Maleka, said the healthcare system was constrained by limited funding, poor road infrastructure and a lack of critical skills.
“The existing hospital in Maseru, Queen Elizabeth II, is highly overcrowded because patients come from the outlying districts such as Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek and Mafeteng for treatment,” Maleka said.
“Recognising the immense health and welfare challenges, the government of Lesotho opted to improve the services delivered at the national referral hospital, Queen Elizabeth II, which is currently not delivering the quality or quantity of care expected of it by the public.”