Tending to the sick
After spending almost five frustrating years working for government as a doctor, Francistown native Dr Abelang Mogorosi pulled the plug on his career following the historic 2011 Public Service strike.
The softly spoken medical man spent four years at Nyangagbwe Referral Hospital and six months at Sekgoma Memorial Hospital in Serowe tending to the sick.
Demoralised by low wages and an overwhelming, increasingly draining workload, Mogorosi resigned just six months before he was eligible for gratuity.
It was the best decision of his life.
Today he runs the budding Satellite Private Clinic, located at Sunshine Plaza, and has slowly asserted himself as one of the best, most trusted doctors in the second city.
In this interview the young doctor – who coyly gives his age as ‘under 40’ – fields questions from Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo and sheds more light on the cut-throat healthcare industry.
Q. Kindly share a little bit about yourself with our readers. Who is Dr Mogorosi?
A. Dr Mogorosi is just under 40 years of age.
My home village is Tonota, but I was born and bred in Francistown.
I’m a medical doctor by training.
I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Q. You currently run a private Medical Clinic. When did you start your operation?
A. I started running the clinic in 2011.
It was already operating under the leadership of Dr Hobona who I bought it from.
Q. What services does Satellite Private Medical Clinic provide?
A. We offer general outpatient care, mother and child healthcare, occupational health, men’s clinic and physiotherapy.
Q. Take us back to your days as a young man.
A. Like I said, I was born and bred in Francistown.
All my schooling was in Francistown.
I then went to University of Botswana for Bachelor of Sciences and subsequently transferred to South Africa to pursue medicine.
I was raised by a single parent, my mother.
I’m from a family of business people, all my siblings are self-employed. It’s in our DNA!
Q. What inspired you to open your own clinic?
A. I quit my job during the infamous public strike in 2011.
I was extremely tired and underpaid.
I was left with only six months to qualify for my gratuity.
Family and colleagues tried to convince me otherwise but I had just had enough.
The writing was on the wall.
I had to leave to keep my sanity; I was on the brink of a serious nervous breakdown!
I was unemployed for a full month, just staying home.
Even though I was flat broke, it was the best 30 days of my life in years.
I had so much peace. After a month I knew I had to start looking for a job.
Then I heard from the grapevine that Dr Hobona wanted a doctor.
I wasted no time.
Lady luck was definitely on my side.
Upon further inquiry from the legendary doctor, she informed me that her clinic was actually up for sale.
Like they say, the rest is history.
Q. What are some of the challenges you face as a young entrepreneur?
A. The challenges are many fold.
The biggest one is medical aids.
The less said about them the better.
I have also noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get supplies for every day use.
Even pharmacies struggle to replenish their stock due to unavailability of products from suppliers.
It is extremely frustrating.
Q. Delving deeper, health care has recently come under scrutiny. While it is essential, government seems to be struggling to give proper health care to citizens while only a few can afford private medical care. What do you think should be done to make health care affordable to all yet profitable to private practitioners?
A. In the past we used to have private-public partnerships.
The government should consider reviving it.
It helped with congestion and gave ordinary Motswana an opportunity to enjoy private health care.
At least with chronic patients they collect their medication from private pharmacies.
I believe the same gesture should be extended to other disciplines as well.
Q. Businesses in Francistown are feeling the effect of Tati Nickel Mine’s closure. How has the mine closure impacted your business?
A. The closure of the mines hit me very hard.
It is not only Tati Nickel by the way, African Copper was the first to go.
We have seen business go down by 50 percent.
It is not easy!
Q. What makes a good doctor?
A. A good listener.
Just listen and most of your patients will walk out happy.
Q. On a scale of one to ten, where would you put Batswana’s health status? Are we a healthy nation?
A. I would say 6/10.
I’d say we are beginning to witness an increase in lifestyle conditions such as cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and many others prevalent in the first world.
This shows that as a nation we are not doing enough when it comes to our health.
Q. Name five vital health tips that should be followed by all.
A. Eat healthy, exercise, do annual medical exams, take advice of doctors seriously and drink lots of water.
Q. The focus in Botswana over the years has predominantly been HIV/AIDS and opportunistic ailments such as Tuberculosis. There are however, other killers such as cancer. How much of a threat are such diseases to the country?
A. You are right. We’ve done so well as a nation to raise the awareness of HIV and Aids, but this sadly has come at the expense of other non-communicable diseases.
Cancer like you say, blood pressure are serious problems in Botswana.
What I usually do is encourage people to go for screening at least once a year.
There are people who never go for screening until they are terminally ill.
Men should come for prostate cancer screening because it is another one of the silent killers.
However, if discovered early it can be treated.
I have to admit though, that when Dorcas Makgato was the Minister of Health, she really worked hard to raise awareness of non-communicable diseases.
She encouraged people to train, and today through her efforts we have people running up Kgale and Nyangabgwe hills.
Q. A patient cured is a client lost. True or false?
A. On the surface it looks that way. But a cured patient brings in more referrals. If you want more clients, cure your patients!
Q. What else do you do besides tending to the sick?
A. I’m a farmer. I rear small stock and I spend most of my time at the farm.
In fact I think I am becoming more of a farmer than a doctor – farming is a new found passion for me.
Q. Thank God It’s Friday. What do you have planned for the weekend?
A. As usual, my weekends are dedicated to farming.