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Minister pledges better perks for nurses


Molotsi MonyamaneLimpho Sello

HEALTH Minister Molotsi Monyamane says government is working on putting in place “retention-oriented measures” for nurses to stem  brain-drain in the health sector.

Dr Monyamane made the remarks during International Nurses Day commemorations held at the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) headquarters in Maseru on Tuesday.

Held under the theme, ‘A force for change, care effective and cost effective’, the annual commemorations coincide with the 12 May 1820 birthday of Italy-born caregiver Florence Nightingale, widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing.

Dr Monyamane implored the nurses to spare no effort in helping Lesotho win the battle against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), as well as non-communicable diseases.

“Your presence in the medical profession must not only be taken note of, but should be seen to yield commendable health outcomes which will almost invariably earn respect for the Ministry of Health in particular and Lesotho in general,” said Dr Monyamane.

The minister added health practitioners must take note of King Letsie III’s remarks in his Speech from the Throne, during the recent opening of the 9th Parliament, on His government’s expectations for the ministry.

“King Letsie III categorically stated that even though Lesotho has never stopped its fight against TB and HIV/AIDS, there are no commendable health outcomes to date,” Dr Monyamane said.

“It would seem as if he was saying to the nurses, ‘Don’t wage war against TB and HIV/AIDS for the sake of it, but keep waging war against the pandemics with a burning desire to emerge victorious in the nearest future.”

Dr Monyamane further noted besides the HIV/AIDS scourge, the Ministry of Health was also concerned by the prevalence of heart ailments, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, adding Lesotho “must stop” this trend.

He also assured the nurses that plans were afoot “to review your salaries and benefits” in light of the continued exodus of health-personnel to other countries.

“It is common cause that most of our nurses leave Lesotho in search of  greener pastures overseas as it is often said, and this robs us of a substantial number of critical staff,” said Dr Monyamane.

“To bring that unpleasant state of affairs to a gentle stop, I am here today to commit that we will work tirelessly with my colleagues in the Ministry of Health, development partners and relevant stakeholders to make sure that retention-oriented measures are put in place for the betterment of our health system.”

In her address, the Ministry of Health’s Director of Nursing Services, Makholu Lebaka, implored nurses and policymakers to work towards creating an effective and cost-effective delivery system to ensure universal health coverage.

Ms Lebaka said Lesotho had fallen short of attaining health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are supposed to have been fulfilled by 2015.

“However, this should not discourage us but rather, give us the energy to work even harder to improve maternal and child health, as well as improve on HIV/AIDS prevention and care strategies,” she said.

“We should also start thinking about the strategies to do better in the post-2015 agenda, without compromising other healthcare challenges as we seem to have done in the past.

“We became so preoccupied with HIV and other communicable diseases and forgot about the non-communicable ones that are preventable yet fatal if left unattended. Such illnesses include diabetes and cardiovascular diseases that have become a menace in our society

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