Original Research

COVID-19 frontline primary health care professionals’ perspectives on health system preparedness and response to the pandemic in the Mahalapye Health District, Botswana

Stephane T. Tshitenge, Justus M. Nthitu
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3166 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3166 | © 2022 Stephane Tshitenge Tshitenge, Justus Mackenzie Nthitu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 July 2021 | Published: 19 April 2022

About the author(s)

Stephane T. Tshitenge, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Justus M. Nthitu, Department of Occupational Health, Mahalapye District Hospital, Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness, Mahalapye, Botswana


Background: The World Health Organization issued interim guidelines on essential health system preparedness and response measures for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The control of the pandemic requires healthcare system preparedness and response.

Aim: This study aimed to evaluate frontline COVID-19 primary health care professionals’ (PHC-Ps) views on health system preparedness and response to the pandemic in the Mahalapye Health District (MHD).

Setting: In March 2020, the Botswana Ministry of Health directed health districts to educate their health professionals about COVID-19. One hundred and seventy frontline PHC-Ps were trained in MHD; they evaluated the health system’s preparedness and response.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study that involved a self-administered questionnaire using the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Health System response guidelines.

Results: The majority (72.5%) of participants felt unprepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic at their level. Most of the participants (70.7%) acknowledged that the health system response plan has been followed. About half of the participants attributed a low score regarding the health system’s preparedness (44.4%), its response (50.0%), and its overall performance (55.6%) to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an association between participants’ age and work experience and their overall perceptions of preparedness and response (p = 0.009 and p = 0.005, respectively).

Conclusion: More than half of the participants gave a low score to the MHD regarding the health system’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further studies are required to determine the causes of such attitudes and to be better prepared to respond effectively.


COVID-19; health system preparedness and response; primary health care professionals; Botswana


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