Changing public health system for better
After a year- long registration process, Wada Goitsemang Keofitlhile and about 30 other Batswana doctors have launched Botswana Society for Medical Specialisation. (BSMS)
The aim was to bridge the critical gap in provision of medical specialists in Botswana.
“Although there are many doctors locally, there is a significant shortage of trained specialists in various medical disciplines. This has adverse impact on the overall health system as those seeking assistance cannot be attended to in a timely fashion,” Keofitlhile noted.
Although the young and driven doctor applauds the government for the many strides made in getting more youth to follow the medical path, Keofitlhile notes a need to step up and ensure all stakeholders play a part in advancing the society’s mandate.
“Quality Health care ought to be accessible to all, however medical officers are limited in the care they provide to their patients.”
She recalls early days upon completion of her studies in Trinidad and Tobago and placement at a public health facility locally.
As a newbie in the field, she quickly realized her limitations.
“I was disheartened by having to consult with patients and refer them to a higher authority in cases that needed intervention only for them to come back to me citing not having understood the doctor that would have attended to them.
Language barrier and long waiting lists posed a serious challenge especially to the elderly who struggled to understand technical medical conditions without equivalent words in Setswana for a doctor to explain them adequately to a patient, which can be both discouraging and painful for the doctor and the patient alike”.
It was against this backdrop and her own experience of trying to raise funds to no avail that Keofitlhele and those like minded thought it best to register BMSB.
“Government does its part in training medical officers with very few being sponsored to specialize. Since health care cannot function without specialization, services are either imported or provided at exorbitant costs incurred by sending patients to other countries for various medical procedures,” she noted.
Visibly concerned, Keofitlhile said should the situation continue as it is, we will continue experiencing even greater losses, both financially and in terms of human resources.
Advancing a solution, the good doctor posits that through the society, Batswana can have a hand in assisting efforts by the government and contributing to training more Batswana specialists.
Passionate about this cause, Keofitlhile is determined to see the society grow through various partnerships.
“We have since engaged with both government bodies and private entities to map a way forward,” she revealed.
Although her application for specialization was rejected three times, Keofitlhile never gave up.
She and her husband who is also a doctor decided to prioritize her studies.
She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in family medicine augmenting her Bachelor in Surgery in Medical Sciences (B-Med-Sic) with the University of West Indies.
“It was not easy as I had to assist my retired mother to raise my four siblings whilst nurturing my own new family setting,” she lamented.
Her battle was also compounded by a painful encounter that has also been inspiration for her to do more.
Keofitlhile lost her dad under conditions she says could have been better managed medically.
She sadly noted that her father took his own life due to overcrowding and limited number of specialists in the field of psychology, which meant that he could not be attended to on time.
“Many young Batswana doctors wish to study further but cannot afford it. Many are also caring for their immediate and extended families with huge financial burdens. This often means the will to study further is but wishful thinking,” she said
Passionate about self- development, Keofitlhile has consistently aimed higher.
In addition she intentionally pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Leadership and Change Management with Botswana Open University.
“I wanted to fully grasp core issues pertaining to change and leadership management within the Botswana context. I hope to not only be the best doctor I can be but also a valuable asset and resource to my colleagues and nation,” she explains
The proud product of public schools, away from her studies and on call, Keofitlhile tutors young learners.
Describing this as humbling, the newly wedded young mother said, “We need to do better than those that came before us and carry the baton forward. There are many of us out there and with the right mindset and nurturing, we can exceed expectations and truly revolutionalise our health system”.