In an effort to revitalize what seems to be a continuous deteriorating health care system, health scholars have pointed the important need of research and innovative strategies in the health sector as this will enhance sustainable quality healthcare and improve health services delivery.
Officiating during the 4th International Research Conference for Institute of Health Sciences and Mission Institutions, University of Botswana Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris hinted that for any health system, there is no reasonable services can be delivered without paying attention to research and innovation. He noted that research remain an engine to health promotion and economic growth adding that empirical research evidence strengthens capacity building across health sciences discipline.
‘‘ A lot still needs to be done on health research perspective and research that is informed by challenges faced by the society and health sector at large should be conducted with the outcomes being fully implemented to bolster the local health system,’’ charged Norris. Norris indicated that the local health workers through Institutes for Health Sciences and Mission Institutions are in a better environment to be the driving force of research and emphasized that the government should avail more resources for this institutions to come up with innovative health improving strategies based on research.
He added: ‘‘Training of health professionals should be theoretical based but it should be extensively practical as well with innovative teaching modes being applicable. As a result research on health sciences and funding should be a priority for the government for promoting the healthcare, because with a sick population there is no productivity and no economic development as well.’’
Moreover, he raised concern that of recent pregnant mothers have been losing babies due to miscarriages in public hospitals therefore calling on the researchers to tap in the issue with research in order to find out the root cause of the problem. The UB provost also reckoned that there is a need for forging relationships and collaborations with powerhouse’s health sciences and research institutions such as Harvard University and pointed out that the strong relationship between local health training institutions and the industry at large will propel the innovative ideas which will promote effective health sector.
He also cautioned that the data analysis and samples of researches conducted in Botswana should be also done locally, as this will help in improving research capacity amongst the local health researchers or scholars citing that this will also enable the implementation of knowledge based economy which hinges on aspects of local evidence base research, innovation and the application of technology.
For her part, the University of Eswatini based scholar, Professor Patricia Joubert said for the past 50 years most African governments made significant strides in investing on the health sectors through training of nurses, doctors and building health facilities She however noted that there is a necessity to improve on health training practices and align them to the west training system as an endeavour to initiate the doctor or nurses without borders and this could be only successful through applying sophisticated, innovative and integrated health professional training methods.
Professor Joubert also said Botswana as a country should be applauded for investing a lot on both the health and education sectors as this is not the case with some African counterparts which are experiencing decline in the health budget putting priorities on other selfish interests particularly by the leaders.
University of South Africa lecturer in the Department of Health Studies and Dr Margaret Ramukumba challenged on the Ministry of Health & Wellness to embark on benchmarking process on other countries health systems, and emphasized the importance of strengthening health promotion through Community Based Teams through implementation on Community Health Workers which is a model in which Botswana can tap into to re-energize the local Primary Health Care.
Ramukumba also proposed that the government through the MOHW can invest into Mobile Health which she pointed is doing very well in South Africa as it can enhance the creation of Health Information Hub which will particularly assist health researchers when looking for information during research period.
PRINCESS MARINA STUMBLING BLOCK FOR RESEARCHERS
The local health professionals have expressed with concern how their efforts to conduct research are halted by Princess Marina Hospital which they expect it to be a major source of information for their research. Some told this publication that the management of PMH takes long to give back the permission on their proposed research areas adding that the hospital is cagey to share information with the researchers due to some intimidating kind of bureaucracy found in the hospital.
One of the health professionals said: ‘‘Sometimes as the workers we are willing to conduct research and our only difficult is getting access to information from the public health facilities which are the mainly prime sources of information. The Ministry as well is not doing enough to help us meet our desires as there is no adequate research budget set aside.”
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.