A group calling itself concerned citizens has written an open letter to the Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo worried that the country is now dealing with community transmission of the coronavirus.
It is estimated that 20 percent of COVID-19 patients need medical oxygen, and the concerned citizens have highlighted that the figure is worrying.
Following widespread reports that patients are dying in numbers in public hospitals due to lack of medical oxygen, the concerned citizens want Mr Maqelepo to be held responsible for the deaths, either directly or otherwise.
Medical oxygen, healthcare experts say, is a critical intervention for COVID-19 and other illnesses caused by respiratory infections. They say it is in fact, one of the most essential medicines, a very effective treatment that is generally safe.
Some people from all over the country are now using various social media platforms to announce the deaths of their relatives and most of them finger the lack of medical oxygen as the reason behind the endless deaths.
The point these announcements is highlighting is not necessarily to broadcast the fatalities themselves, but to emphasise the crisis triggered by unavailable resources especially the medical oxygen during this time when there is a viral respiratory pandemic sweeping across the globe.
But on January 15, Mr Maqelepo reassured the nation that although there is reliable access to medical oxygen, the challenge is however that its demand has grown exponentially.
The open letter to the minister notes that besides taking responsibility of the deaths, he should also show remorse and publicly apologise to those who suffered directly or indirectly because of the pandemic.
“We also humbly request the minister to make public the number of all patients who died daily in Berea and Mafeteng hospitals from December 31 2020, to January 22 2021,” the letter also shows.
It adds that if the minister fails to do as they request within seven days from January 22, the concerned citizens will ask the prime minister to remove him from office with immediate effect.
The lack of reliable oxygen at government-run hospitals is an age-old deficiency which has just only been highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To address the crisis, the authors of the letter argue that Mr Maqelepo could have ensured that his ministry collaborated with private corporations and invested in access to medical oxygen and built sustainable systems to provide it to patients.
They said they have been reliably informed that there are private corporations which approached the health ministry and offered to help in the fight against the pandemic by investing in the manufacture and distribution of medical oxygen but were overlooked.