Most people prioritise physical and social wellbeing but disregard mental health, which is just as important as the other two.
Dr. Phatshimo Lorraine Lemogang says we need to have more open discussions about issues surrounding mental health because most people think that being mentally unhealthy means you are ‘crazy’ while anxiety, depression, insecurity, low self-esteem and obsession fall under mental health issues.
“It is important to exercise regularly, eat healthy and find your place in society, but don't neglect your mental health. The most important factors for good health are: regular exercise; eating healthy food including taking multivitamin supplements; drinking a lot of water and avoiding or reducing alcohol intake and also giving the body regular time to rest."
Being a medical doctor is considered a noble career and doctors are seen as messiahs of sorts and this is no exception with Dr. Lemogang, who works at different private clinics in Gaborone. Prior to that, she worked at Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole.
Dr. Lemogang merges her medical gift with her spirituality as she is a God-fearing Christian and staunch member of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). The mother of one, who is popularly called 'Lolo,' trained to be a doctor in Cuba several years ago.
She is also a health and wellness mentor. She describes herself as a simple, brave young lady, a survivor in many ways.
"I am not afraid of change. I love reading and I’m passionate about helping people improve their health and finances. I’m a staunch member of ZCC and I can say that I had a good upbringing. My parents did their best to give me a good education and good morals, for that I am eternally grateful."
She is the typical 'good doctor' - bubbly, friendly and polite. Medicine is Dr. Lemogang’s calling and something that was engraved in her DNA from a young age.
"I always knew that I would be a doctor and even my family also supported me in my upbringing by calling me Dr. Lemogang for as long as I can remember!"
Due to the tough economic climate, many Batswana cannot afford medical aid or specialised healthcare and the public health system is overburdened. But everyone deserves good and affordable healthcare.
Dr. Lemogang said that more than asking Batswana to compromise because they can’t afford medical aid, the relevant stakeholders should take measures to reduce the significant gap that exists between private and public health care.
"Nonetheless, Batswana should also take it upon themselves to make sure that they eat the right kind of food, exercise regularly, attend their check-ups, and follow the advice of their healthcare practitioners. They should also take initiative to research more about their ailments and how they can better be managed by home remedies."
She said that public health is a responsibility of everyone and not only the government. "It is the role of the government to make sure that high quality resources are provided, be it tangible resources or human resources, as well as monitoring the use of the above and ensuring that healthcare workers are always providing empathetic care to all patients regardless of social status," she said.
She observed that there are people in remote areas of the country who do not have proper access to good healthcare because of poor transportation medium mostly because of lack of good tarred roads that lead to the nearest health facility, and this is something that the government needs to take into account.
There are feasible medical aid covers in Botswana, however as the cost of living increases, more and more Batswana find themselves unable to maintain the cost of these covers. Dr. Lemogang said that it would help to revise some of the medical aid covers or create more covers for low to middle income earners who currently form majority of the population.
She also noted that as technology improves, we need to leverage on that and have more telemedicine facilities where specialist health practitioners can assist more by consulting in remote areas using technology.
"For this to be successful, we need to engage mobile service providers to improve coverage in remote areas," she added.
On the shortage of medication that has besieged local clinics and hospitals, the doctor hastened to point out that the issue of medication is not particular to Botswana alone, but is actually a global problem.
She said that it would benefit members of the public if there are constant updates on availability, and possible alternatives to the relevant stakeholders. She further said that proper education on how to deal with the drug shortages would also be of good value to try and mitigate the situation.
"Nonetheless, it would benefit us more to invest in production and distribution of different drugs, and while we’re there, also explore proper use of medicinal plants through collaborations with experts in that field," she said.
Dr. Lemogang also noted that as far as staffing is concerned, it may benefit the country to open more pathways to allow health workers employed in private institutes to work part-time in government facilities in the form of paid locums, in order to relieve the shortages that exist in government facilities, as well as increase the pay rate for government health workers for better retention.
"I believe that doing this would not only improve the issues of staffing, but it would also improve the mental health of health workers in our country, which is a topic that is seldom brought to the table," she said.
Dr. Lemogang said that health education still remains vital, and people don’t need to be nurses or doctors in order to provide health education.