By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Last week Thursday saw the official handover of the M1 billion new Maseru District Hospital and Eye Clinic in Maseru to serve communities around Maseru capital.

The hospital opening has sparked hopes and excitement to address the country’s pressing health challenges and ensure access to health services for all.

This state-of-the-art hospital is a donation to the government of Lesotho from the People’s Republic of China.

“This project is fully funded by a grant, not a loan from the Government of The People’s Republic of China. The Government of The People’s Republic of China has invested 404, 000, 000.00 RMB (Four hundred million Yuan), equivalent to M1, 085, 748, 408.24 (One billion and eighty-five million, seven hundred and forty-eight thousand, four hundred and eight maloti and twenty-four lisente),” reads the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) document. 

The talk of the speakers during the opening ceremony centred around demands to set higher standards in terms of the quality healthcare services that it provides.

It remains to be seen if the promises made will become reality and whether the hospital’s beauty matches services provided. Basotho have long complained about poor healthcare facilities, and while office bearers are aware of these issues, improvement is yet to be noted.

The Minister of Health Hon Selibe Mochoboroane also commits to improved healthcare at the new hospital saying, “I want to promise Basotho nation that they are going to receive the best healthcare treatment in this milestone. The equipment installed in this hospital compels us to provide the best services possible”.

He says specialists and super-specialists will be engaged to alleviate Basotho in their own country, promising that there will be adverts this week seeking qualified and suitable candidates to fill up vacant positions.

The Maseru’s District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Moseme Makhele says the hospital could not come at an opportune time to address the health challenges in the country including the improvement of primary health care services.

Dr Makhele says they are going to ensure best healthcare services – the government spends over M200 million to transfer cancer patients to South Africa, the cancer that ought to have been identified and treated accordingly at early stages.

“We commit to delivering the best healthcare services. There is nothing as important as health professionals warmly accepting patients, greeting them in their language, and listening to them. This significantly increases the patients’ chances of recovery.”

Mochoboroane states that the hospital is the result of a request made by the government of Lesotho to China in 2016 during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He also notes that this project was of the three successful ventures supported by China out of 27 projects which Lesotho needed support on.

The projects include the Mpiti-Sehlabathebe Road and the Ramarothole Solar Plant in Mafeteng whose phase one was launched last year.

For his part, the Chinese Embassy Charge d’Affaires LYN Liangzhong says the gift from the Chinese government includes construction of 10 buildings, modernized supporting facilities and medical equipment, office furniture and kitchenware, as well as the renovation of the dormitory of the Chinese medical team.

“I believe this brand-new state-of-the-art hospital will help improve the medical services of Lesotho, and significantly increase Basotho people’s well-being and health,” he says, highlighting that medical and health care forms an “important” part of China-Lesotho cooperation through these countries’ joint efforts.

Liangzhong further promises that, “in the future, China will support Lesotho health policies and help strengthen the prevention and control system, communicable diseases, improve medical research, develop traditional medicine and improve medicine accessibility and affordability”.

“We also seek opportunities to support Lesotho in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases,” he says.

With state-of-the-art equipment tailored for premium healthcare services, this hospital is poised to save the government millions of Maloti in patient transfers for specialized services in South Africa.

The Maseru District Hospital will among others provide services such as the dialysis, ICU (Intensive Care Unit), CT-Scan and Histopathology laboratory services.

The hospital is also set to provide telemedicine services as it twins with the Wuhan No.1 hospital in China. It will further boast training facilities for trainee doctors and nurses.

Speaking during the inauguration the Prime Minister Rt Hon Sam Matekane thanked China for this gift saying, “this state-of-the-art facility is a testament to our shared vision and commitment to enhancing health services in Lesotho”.

“I am convinced that this facility is equipped to provide quality outpatient and inpatient health services to Basotho thereby significantly reducing the need for Basotho to receive medical treatment outside the country. This hospital among others will provide services at the level of a regional hospital,” he says.

Flanked by the little Prime Minister Thato Sello, Matekane [U1] also joined the chorus demanding that better healthcare services be rendered by the hospital.

This hospital is constructed on the side of the demolished Queen II Hospital, and there are some historical artifacts preserved there for historical significance.

The Acting Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Stephen Mary hails the hospital as marking a “significant milestone” in the process of enhancing the healthcare services for the people in Lesotho.

She says this hospital signifies a collaborative effort to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare services.

“The benefits of this new hospital extend beyond individual patient care. It is anticipated to reduce the costs associated with transporting patients to the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial (QMMH) referral hospital.

This, in turn, will allow QMMH to specialize as a tertiary facility, focusing on handling only the most complex cases and alleviating the overcrowding that has sometimes compromised service delivery.

“The World Health Organization is proud to be a part of this transformative journey. We are keen to collaborate and continue providing technical support to the Ministry of Health in Lesotho as it endeavors to improve healthcare services for all.

“Our commitment to this partnership remains steadfast, and we look forward to the positive impacts this hospital will bring to the health and well-being of the Basotho people,” she reiterates their support for healthcare services in the country.

 [U1]Who is Matekane?