Water is precious, and clean drinking water is valuable beyond compare. It is easy to lose sight of the value of water when it flows so conveniently from our taps. Yet it is no simple thing to supply more than a dam’s worth of clean drinking water to a thirsty nation. It takes science to figure out where tomorrow’s glass of water is going to come from. Fortunately the men and women of science in Botswana are up for the challenge.
Scientists at the University of Botswana’s chemistry department have explored deeply into the water cleaning properties of the moringa plant. It began in 2010 when a UB lecturer, Dr. Kwaambwa alongside two Swedish scientists published an article in the prestigious American Chemical Society journal. The article detailed the experiments carried out on the moringa plant and the conclusions reached. It was then that it was first brought to light that a protein extract from moringa seeds could be a feasible water treatment solution.
Since then the laboratories have been busy as UB chemists in their goggles and white lab coats sought answers to important questions. Questions like what impurities can the protein remove? How effective is it? Can turbid contaminated water become drinkable through use of moringa seeds alone? The answers were remarkable. Moringa seeds were demonstrated to be able to kill bacteria and clear murky brown water. The ability to clear murky water was attributed to a positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP). When you crush the moringa seeds and add them to water, this protein will kill some of the microbial organisms and cause them to clump together and settle at the bottom of the container.
Though killing bacteria is impressive it does not make moringa seeds an extraordinary water cleaner for home use. It is well known that simply boiling water is good enough to kill harmful bacteria. Two drops of bleach such as jik in one litre of water can also make water safe to drink after allowing it to sit for a couple of days. Evidently, moringa seeds are not unique in their anti-microbial properties. What sets them apart is their ability to remove heavy metals from water, no amount of boiling or jik can remove heavy metals.
A journal article in the Oxford University Press points out that the main threats to human health from heavy metals are associated with lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As). Continuous long-term exposure to those metals even at low concentrations has adverse health effects. The danger is subtle because people who drink contaminated water don’t immediately start falling sick. The toxic metals accumulate over time in their bodies and then years later they do not understand why they are suffering from joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system, nervous system, or even cancer.
Dr. Florence Nareetsile, an inorganic chemist and lecturer at UB was able to demonstrate using specialised analytical equipment that moringa seeds do in fact remove heavy metals. With moringa validated as an all round water cleaning resource the challenge is now to package it in a way which will serve Batswana best. More chemists are needed to continue the research effort. Mr. James Matshwele a recent graduate and teaching assistant at the UB chemistry department says anyone can be a chemist if they are dedicated enough and remember the three important rules of the chemistry lab. “Label clearly, measure twice, and eat elsewhere.”
Though UB chemists have paved the way, others can take up the mantle of creating water cleaning solutions from moringa seeds. Entrepreneurs can invest in development of moringa seed based water filters, businesses could sponsor the research being done, and the people can educate each other and plant moringa trees.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.