Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Remarks by His Honour the Vice President, Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP at the Bamalete Lutheran Hospital Dinner Dance

source: Republic of Botswana (22/4/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 11 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline


[Salutations]…Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am naturally very delighted to join you this evening at this auspicious fundraising occasion. It is indeed an honour to be part of this gathering that brings together people who have a heart of compassion and care for others. There is no better way of showing that one cares than through giving because actions in that regard always speak louder than words.

2. I want to thank all of you present here tonight for having left your other equally important engagements and families to grace this occasion. You will be happy to know that funds raised at tonight’s Dinner Dance would be used to complete the Physiotherapy Hall Project at the Bamalete Lutheran Hospital in Ramotswa.

3. The project is one among the many that the hospital management, staff and Balete community have embarked on to improve health care services not only for residents of Ramotswa but for Botswana as a whole. For instance I am informed that funds raised in a similar event in 2007 were used to construct the orthopaedic centre which provides artificial limbs for disabled patients.

4. As you will all agree physiotherapy is an essential component of the health services. It rehabilitates patients by improving their mobility and quality of life making it easier for their re-integration into society. Undoubtedly, this initiative is a clear demonstration of the commitment of Bamalete Lutheran Hospital towards improving the health status of Batswana.

5. Tonight highlights the spirit of self reliance and selfless compassion that has truly been characteristic of Bamalete Lutheran Hospital over the years. Let me commend the Hospital Advisory Committee, management and staff for the hard work you put into organising this event.

6. Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Bamalete Lutheran Hospital has an illustrious history blended with missionary work and medical care that dates as far back as 1934. It was the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hermannsburg, Germany, which recognised the need for more than just preaching the word of God by establishing of what we know today as the Bamalete Lutheran Hospital. I am informed that it was Sister Emma Pfitzinger, a nurse by profession, who first pioneered the provision of health care in Ramotswa. In subsequent years, Doctors E.U. Schmidt, Ian Kennedy, Goldbach and others were among the dedicated staff that administered good quality health care to our people.

7. It is also heartening to note that in 1960, the Balete community offered three small school buildings to be converted into a provisional hospital. Eventually, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hermannsburg and its sister organisations (the Bread for the World and Christoffel Blinden Mission in Germany) with the support of Botswana Government opened a properly planned and designed hospital in 1969.

8. In recent years though, the Church and funding organisations in Germany have scaled down their operations in this country and let Government of Botswana take over. However their contribution is still significant.

9. Partner organisations such as the African Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP) and the Global Fund have also contributed to the quality of facilities now found at Bamalete Lutheran Hospital. The commitment to these partnerships has seen the facility develop into a modern day District Mission Hospital with 127 (hundred and twenty seven) beds.

10. Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, being one of the oldest hospitals in the country, Bamalete Lutheran Hospital is renowned for its excellence in provision of, especially, ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) care. It is for this reason that Batswana travel from the length and breadth of this country to seek the quality care at this facility.

11. I also know that the hospital since its inception offered holistic and comprehensive health care to Batswana in the areas of ENT, maternity, surgical and child care. Currently the hospital offers a wide range of clinical services including but not limited to eye and dental care, physiotherapy, counselling services, and a diabetic clinic.

12. The hospital also has a school of nursing which currently offers training in midwifery studies with an intake of 60 students per year. I am informed that the school has been affiliated to the University of Botswana since February 1997. The school is a model of excellence in educating and training for the health care sector.

13. Bagaetsho, In 1992 the Hospital management and staff came up with the idea of a Hospice at Home Project, again initially funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Mission in Germany. This was in response to the growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS and the increasing number of cancer, chronically ill and incurable medical patients. The hospice provides Community Home Based Care (CHBC), counselling services and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients and their families. It has become a community based organization that addresses the physical, psycho- social and spiritual issues that haunt the progressively ill patients. The hospice is supported by the community through the District Multi-Sectoral AIDS Committee, District Authorities, other hospice service providers in the country, such as BONASO and local donors such as Deloitte and Touché. This project is yet another testimony to the commitment of the BLH management, staff and the Balete community to continuously contribute to meeting the health care needs of Batswana.

14. Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me hasten to say that Government is dedicated to making Botswana a centre of excellence in health care provision. That is why we have established the Health Hub which will utilise both existing and planned infrastructure to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the health sector, among others.

15. Bamalete Lutheran Hospital as presently resourced and with more improvements that are anticipated will be a critical component of this hub. It is therefore imperative that the hospital continues to uphold the standard of excellence in provision of healthcare services. And this is the more reason why we should support their excellent initiatives. It is at occasions such as this that the hospital gets to raise awareness about the services it offers while at the same time soliciting support to further improve service delivery. This activity therefore is essentially an appeal to all Batswana, individuals, members of the business community as well as the civil society to support BLH to complete projects otherwise not catered for under the Ministry of Health Development budget. The Hospital will need about P1.5 million to complete the physiotherapy hall project.

16. Director of Ceremonies, let me conclude by challenging all present here tonight, private sector players, civil society organisations and Batswana at large to generously support this project. It is by undertaking projects such as this one that we can move closer to achieving the goals and objectives of Vision 2016 and in this case ‘Health for all by the year 2016’. Though we are currently faced with a mammoth challenge in the global financial and economic crisis, I want to believe it is time to innovatively seize opportunities that present themselves and wisely invest our scarce resources.

17. With this few remarks I wish all of you a very pleasant evening. I thank you for your kind attention.

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