By Mosa Mojonothoane
Through collaboration with South Africa’s Rocket Air Ambulance, Betma Medical Scheme has resolved to launch Helicopter Ambulances, Air Rescue Services and General “subsidized” Medical Aid in Lesotho, which is currently open for free registration.
The subsidized membership will run for five years with a possibility of extension, after which normal medical aid fees will be payable.
In response to an outcry that took a toll in November last year, about the Government of Lesotho being broke, Betma Medical Scheme went all out to source a grant of USD10 million to subsidize civil servants medical aid fees with 90% while 10% remains payable by the government employees.
This subsidy has thus been extended to all Basotho citizens regardless of employment status.
For the purpose of implementing this initiative, Betma has secured USD10 million annually, being the pledged funds that were initially intended to be used as a grant to the Government of Lesotho. “The grant was to be used to subsidize the Lesotho government contributions for Betma Public Employees Medical Aid plan…. It will run for a renewable period of five years and will be administered by Betma Medical Scheme,” noted Betma Medical Scheme in the press statement as at February 9.
As further explained in the presser, this change of plans was triggered by realization of the economic situation in Lesotho amidst the recurring risky incidences. It noted that “Medical expenses are a concern for every person. Private health system leaves a lot to be desired but is expensive, to say the least. Most of us cannot afford more than a few days of hospitalization with medical care from specialists. Many cannot even afford a deposit to be admitted to a hospital. Medical aid is the only option for the average earning citizen access private health services.”
“We found it very important to form this partnership given the conditions of our road infrastructure in the country. We have, therefore, identified Rocket Air Ambulance as a perfect solution to this problem,” said Betma Medical Scheme Executive Director Dr. Mojalefa Bulane.
He reflected on the reigning weather conditions that often leave Basotho stuck at snowy mountains and wiped by floods, where many have lost lives in the absence of convenient rapid response measures. Bulane revealed that 11 choppers have been reserved for this service, saying seven are reserved for South Africa while four are for Lesotho.
These are Intensive Care Unit (ICU) installed aircrafts.
The development also brings along Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) solutions through a software installation embedded with a panic button. According to Betma Medical Scheme Chief Technology Officer Katiso Kherehloa, the App will ease services distribution and help alleviate fatalities in remote areas. He said it is already used for medical consultations, saying the emergency aircraft is an added functionality. Through this app, patients are able to talk to the doctors and be sent medication to their apartments. He affirmed that it will use both English and Sesotho, saying with time, arrangements will be made to include other local languages like Sephuthi.
“Processes are also underway for provision of a toll-free number for those who are not techno-wise and those in very remote places, who are the most victims of natural disasters. This will also be used to alert about accidents involving masses,” said Kherehloa.