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MoH seeks additional P1 billion to fight Covid-19

MINISTER: Serame

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame has requested parliament to approve a sum of P1.13 billion for the Ministry of Health and Wellness for the procurement of medical supplies.

When presenting a statement on the supplementary estimates of expenditure from the consolidated and development funds in parliament on Tuesday, Serame said the amount is required for mainly vaccines and associated medical items such as syringes, needles, and surgical masks.

“The amount will also cover the cost of transporting the vaccines and other logistics items such as cold chain storage,” the finance minister told parliament, adding that the requested funding would also cover operational costs for the Treatment Centre and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH).

In addition, the minister said the funds would accommodate salaries and allowances for health professionals such as nurses, clinical technologists and laboratory scientists hired through the University of Botswana (UB) for COVID-19 Emergency Response needs at SKMTH treatment centre and ICU.

Serame explained that these requirements could not be foreseen during the initial 2021/2022 budget proposals given the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and its successive variants.

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“In addition, the evolution of the disease and indications of the vaccines’ availability time frame were unclear,” she said.

At the start of the current financial year, the ministry approved a recurrent budget of P50.66 billion.

Of the ministerial recurrent Budget, the Ministry of Health was allocated a total of P7.90 billion or 15.6 percent to fund health services including P426 million for COVID-19 relief.

This week, Serame said the overall ministerial expenditure as of July 31st, 2021 was almost P3 billion.

Of the P426 million which has been set-aside for COVID-19, the minister said P298 million has already been spent.

“This spending level, together with the overall ministry’s expenditure level of 38 percent at this time of the financial year, indicates that the remaining funds are insufficient to accommodate the ministry’s requirements for the rest of the financial year,” said the minister in her plea to parliament.

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She noted that the situation is made worse by uncertainties surrounding the evolution of COVID-19 variants.

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