Although they say they are not aware of developments at the BONU, the ministry fears that mass departures could harm the country’s health system. “The departure of a large number of nurses could certainly affect the delivery of health services in Botswana. Health is one of the most sought-after services in the country, so it is important that all the resources necessary for the proper functioning of the health system are in place. The ministry views healthcare workers, including nurses, as an essential resource for the proper functioning of the healthcare system.
It is for this reason that the ministry has initiated some changes that could see health care providers, including nurses, see an improvement in their conditions of service. The ministry has also launched a massive training initiative which will see many nurses enroll for higher education in various areas of the nursing profession,” said Christopher Nyanga, Senior Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Health. On the issue of unemployed nurses, Nyanga said that given the shortage of health care workers in Botswana and around the world, and the recruitment the ministry does every year, the number is quite low.
“The ministry will continue to recruit health workers in all fields and settings to keep the health system intact and ensure Batswana have access to health services. The ministry will also continue to address issues related to the welfare of healthcare workers in order to retain them and avoid a high attrition rate. The ministry appreciates the contribution of healthcare workers, including the nursing cadre, who remain the foundation of primary healthcare, in helping to save the lives of many people from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry will therefore do everything in its power to support and facilitate health care providers, so that they can provide the best services to the people,” he said. BONU recently announced a partnership with NEU Professionals Limited to facilitate the employment of Botswanan nurses. NEU Professionals Limited, an international healthcare recruitment agency headquartered in London, was established in 2013 with the specific aim of helping NHS Trusts and Health Boards recruit nurses from overseas.
According to BONU International Affairs Secretary Pinkie Mpinba-Joseph, their partnership with NEU will make it easier for Batswana to work abroad. This by facilitating the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). IELTS is designed to help a person work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA. Mpinba-Joseph revealed that they plan to send the first cohort over the next two months. “We have one Trust which is currently looking for 200 nurses. We are in talks with another and have not yet established the number they will need.
Those selected will be trained and take the English test before those who pass can then travel to the UK. We will seek at least 300 nurses to leave every year,” she said.