Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) has condemned the deployment of lecturers into the COVID-19 vaccination drive. According to BOFEPUSU the move by the government is uncalled for as that is not in lecturers’ job description. Moreover, the Union says the unemployed nurses should be engaged to carry out the duty.
“BOFEPUSU notes the instruction for IHS Lecturers to take part in COVID-19 vaccination exercise at DHMTs .It must be noted that, this unilateral action affects the job description of the concerned Lecturers , yet there was no consultation with them, and instead they are just being posted for such duties. There are many graduate nurses roaming the streets unemployed, and are the ones that should be roped in for this exercise and accordingly paid. These graduates need to be engaged because the current health sector workforce is overwhelmed, and further their engagement on permanent basis will help in addressing the challenge of nurse-patient ratio. These circumstances are testimony views that there is no proper coordination and consultation in the vaccination programme, workers are just being thrown around, whereas they get ignored in their request for personal protection equipment, COVID-19 vaccination and covid 19 risk allowance.” Ketlhalefile Motshegwa- BOFEPUSU’s Deputy Secretary noted.
In April it was reported that over hundred temporary nurses’ were terminated. Though the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) went against that development by the government, it seem to have not helped.
In their statement against the contracts termination, the Union charged, ” BONU is particularly concerned about the nonrenewal or termination of Temporary Nurses contracts and delayed /no payment of their monthly remunerations for unsatisfactory and unknown reasons. It must be categorically stated that and emphasized that these nurses are helpful because they do Covid-19 tests, contact tracing, Covid-19 vaccinations, and other routine Nursing activities. Therefore, termination of their contracts leads to acute shortage of manpower which causes the Nurses on the ground to be overwhelmed by numerous Nursing duties. Some Nurses have succumbed to COVID-19, others are in quarantines, home isolations, and the rest who are currently on duty are denied annual leaves as the Covid-19 activities intensifies from day to day.”
The shortage of nurses seems to be a major concern as the Union always notes how overwhelmed the nurses are due to the COVID-19 surge. The same was rubber-stamped by the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force Chairperson- Dr. Kereng Masupu recently. Masupu noted that there is shortage of workforce as most have contracted the virus.
Spitting out the vernom recently, the Union noted in regards to shortage of nurses versus the Task Force renumerations and their work;
“President, the Task Force should wind up and close shop. This task team is eating into the purse of our country. If they are getting Five million Pula (P5 Million) annually, we are talking about more than hundred (100) nurses who can be employed. We have more than five hundred (500+) nurses who are unemployed, not mentioning retired nurses. They are no longer serving their purpose, their purpose is now to report statistics, but the statistics we can get one officer from Ministry of Health to update us. These two (2) centres of power are causing confusion in our country. Task Force can close down and return to where they were before, we would be thankful for what they have for us.” Obonolo Rahube, BONU President cried out.