One of the worst blunders committed by the previous administration was to close down Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in September 2011—an error of judgment which has caused irreparable damage to the legacy of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Revered and reviled in almost equal measure, Queen II closed its doors for business in September 2011 after serving the nation for 100 years.
A hospital notorious for poor service and archaic medical faculties, Queen II still had its attractions, among them its location in Maseru’s Central Business District, which ensured easy accessibility.
When Dr Mosisili’s government decided to close down the hospital, the official line was the facility had deteriorated so much rehabilitating it would not make economic sense—an evaluation many continue to dispute to this day.
That Queen II would need a complete makeover in both its infrastructure and management to provide the kind of service the nation was increasingly demanding, was becoming obvious with each passing day and the decision to open Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital to replace it as the national referral hospital, was a stroke of genius by Dr Mosisili’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy government.
Yet this brilliance was to be blighted by the closure of Queen II and one of the reasons why there is so much animosity towards Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital or Tšepong, by the public despite the hospital’s provision of much-needed healthcare which could only be accessed in South Africa in the past, was that monumental blunder to shut down Queen II.
Conventional wisdom would have dictated that Queen II remained in operation and was turned into a district hospital, while Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital—with its hi-tech facilities, highly skilled staff and professional management—became the national referral hospital.
The coalition government has since resuscitated Queen II, averting the demolition of this iconic structure that had become a striking feature of Maseru, and indeed, a symbol of our fight for better health and an AIDS-free future generation.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has since found a useful campaign tool as Lesotho gears for the February 2015 general election, as reported elsewhere in this issue, taking Dr Mosisili to the cleaners for allowing Queen II’s demise at the most inopportune time.
Dr Mosisili’s government might have had its own vision for the country’s health sector hence the decision to shut down Queen II.
But considering the outcry that followed the hospital’s closure, and the resultant overload on Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital, this was not the wisest of moves to make and those who made this ill-advised decision should have since realised this folly.
Lesotho does not need to demolish hospitals and clinics but build more such centres if the country is to achieve its health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—those of reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases by the year 2015.
It has since emerged the country might not realise these and other MDGs—eradicating extreme poverty and hunger , achieving universal primary education , promoting gender equality and empowering women, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development—which is why we applaud the decision by the coalition government comprising Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, the LCD and Basotho National Party lead by Mothetjoa Metsing and Thesele ‘Maseribane respectively, for bringing Queen II back to life once again.
The fact that the hospital is back to life once more without the projected massive injection of funds is yet another indictment on the Mosisili administration.