Occupational Therapists (OTs) around the country gathered at Lansmore on Thursday to discuss challenges due to lack of resources and successes in their practice. Occupational therapy is defined as the use of assessment and treatment to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder. OTs from different hospitals around the country made presentations in which among them were Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital, Mahalapye Hospital, Scottish Livingstone Hospital and Princess Marina Hospital. Senior Occupational Therapist at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital Water Tawana said that they have a lot of activities that they engage their patients in like carpentry, welding and hairdressing. She said normally when something is damaged by one of the patients they do not buy a replacement but do repairs.
The workshop was hosted by Princess Marina hospital where Robert Tarasana who is an Occupational Therapist from the hospital revealed that indeed the problem that they have as OTs is that they are never enough. He said even in a big hospital like Mahalapye which has many villages that fall under has only one OT who doesn’t even have an assistant. Staphinah Bazibi who is an OT at Scottish Livingstone said sometimes it is just too difficult for them though they want to help people because there is no equipment that they have to use and on top of that being short staffed. Most of them did confirm that just because they came to the workshop in Gaborone, their departments had to be closed since there would be no one operating. Bazibi said that the other problem that they have is that some of the health professionals do not even understand occupational therapy very well because they wrongly refer patients.
In their presentation Princess Marina was giving a presentation they said there are only three locals at the hospital that does OT while the other five are foreigners. Beauty Madiba who was making the presentation said despite the many accidents that Batswana gets involved in that affects their spinal cords, there is only one Spinalis Centre in the country which is the one in Marina Hospital. She said that most patients that have spinal cord problems got them through car accidents and they tend to grow each year, while others are a result of horse riding or donkey riding. She said as few as they are they are responsible for all the patients around the country with spinal cord problems. “Sometimes it makes me cry to know that we can't be there for patients in remote areas who need our services and monitoring,” she said. She added it is in Marina where they make sure that they help those people to try and do some few things for themselves like bathing even if they are wheelchair bound.
She advocated for policy makers to do something that will enable the wheel chair bound people to have access to most services on their own like public transport, or going back to work because some do not go back to work because factors in the environment do not allow them to while they can still do their job well. “There should be inclusion of people with disabilities, people should not look at them and see a wheel chair,” she said.