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UB Chemist vows to mainstream herbal knowledge

In 1999 a man from Mogoditshane with claims to have a cure for HIV/AIDS approached the University of Botswana (UB) and asked researchers to examine his product and verify his claim. This man had attracted a significant following and many believed in his ‘cure’.

The idea of an HIV cure coming from an uneducated man living in a village was ridiculous, and as such no funds were spared for the investigation. To Dr. David Tanyala Takuwa, an analytical chemist and lecturer at UB, that was a terrible oversight.

Though it was clear to him that the village man’s herbs could not be a cure, he figured that there must be substances in the herbs with some effect on HIV. Analysis of the supposed cure might have given insight on compounds with activity on HIV, possibly leading to development of refined treatment products. However, no research was ever done and knowledge of the Mogoditshane man’s herbs was lost.

Today Dr. Takuwa focuses all his scientific acumen into investigating traditional herbal knowledge. He has filtered through forests of information from his laboratory showing that the lore of herbalists should not be easily dismissed.
Currently, he has three PhD students doing research which will develop methods to identify indigenous plants with therapeutic properties.

One of the students, Margaret Mkambamkhami’s investigations is focused on researching on diabetes. Anitha Immaculate is investigating anticancer properties, and Abibu Moshood is analysing vitamin content and has collaborated with Mr Kakanda, a herbalist living in Francistown, and are working on producing green chemistry pesticides. The pesticides they are developing unlike synthesized pesticides will not be a pollutant and will thus be safe for the environment.

The greatest challenge Dr. Takuwa has faced so far is lack of funding but that doesn’t discourage him. He is optimistic about the future and certain that more people will come to appreciate the value of research.

President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama speaking at the African Academy of Science conference in Kasane earlier this year said, “Africans should have more innovations relevant to Africa.” These sentiments, he said have given him some hope.

Also, UB has an initiative for community projects. Through this initiative, members of the community seeking to refine their traditional knowledge with the empiricism of science can be engaged. This initiative however only freely serves those with the desire to empower their communities and not those pursuing their self-interests.

The intellectual property developed through this initiative is retained by the community; the university along with the scientists working at UB make no claim to it. Through this initiative Dr. Takuwa investigated the cosmetic properties of donkey milk. His research led to the production of a whole range of donkey milk products including soaps, lotions, and creams.

Mr Olefile Sebonego, whose keen eye for business had him take interest in donkey milk research, is now working on establishing large scale donkey milk farming in Botswana. He has been successful in Mmathethe, Moshupa, and Francistown; and he is determined to keep going till Botswana becomes an exporter of cosmetic products.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021

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.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021

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.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

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.

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