CONTAMINATION: A report from a research shared by a University of Botswana (UB) scientist at the Southern and Eastern African Network of Analytical Chemists (SEANAC) conference in July this year indicates that Gaborone waste water contains ARV drugs. Should it be augmented into portable water in the near future as per the suggestions of the authorities, scientists say there is urgent need to develop mechanisms to separate the pharmaceuticals.
Researchers press panic buttons over ARVs traces in Gaborone water
Study discovers ARVs in Glen Valley Wastewater treatment Plant
Wastewater expected to augment potable water supplies to Greater Gaborone
More than 269 100 people currently on medication in Botswana
Professors call for methods to separate ARVs from waste water
With more than 269 100 people currently on Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) medication in Botswana, a new challenge has emerged – the pharmaceuticals are finding their way into the waste water which is expected to be augmented with potable water in future.
A report from a research shared by a University of Botswana (UB) scientist at the Southern and Eastern African Network of Analytical Chemists (SEANAC) conference in July this year indicates that Gaborone waste water contains ARV drugs.
The life expectancy of people infected with HIV in Botswana has significantly increased over the years as Batswana embraced the use of ARV’s. Thousands of HIV positive people live long fulfilling lives due to ARV treatment. Currently more than two hundred and sixty thousand people are on ARV medication in Botswana. This has led to the unintended consequence of these ARV drugs to accumulate in waste water after being passed out as excreta by individuals who are taking ARV medication.
Scotch Ndlovu, a PhD student at the University of Botswana was alerted to the fact that there was an intention to use treated effluent from the Glen Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant to augment potable water supplies to Greater Gaborone. This led him carrying out research on the separation and quantification of ARV drugs in waste water. His work was done under the supervision of Prof. K. Sichilongo and Dr H. Okatch.
“The reclamation of treated effluent from the Glen Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant is expected to augment potable water supplies to Greater Gaborone which, like the rest of the country, suffers periodic shortages….” Ndlovu states in his presentation. The presence of these ARV’s in wastewater means that there is need to develop libraries/database of the quantities of these emerging pollutants in the waste water, he says.
Ndlovu’s research was primarily focused on developing a method to better analyse the presence of different classes of ARV’s. Determining the presence of ARV’s was merely an outcome of the main focus, though it was anticipated that they would be.
Ndlovu stresses that it is important to develop precise analytical methods of ARV detection in water to ensure no traces leach into water meant for human consumption. In as much as ARV’s being present in waste water was unforeseen it is unclear what implications this might have on the environment or health of people should they be exposed to contaminated water.
Both Kenya and South Africa have reported incidents of ARV’s and other pharmaceuticals being present in tap water as a result of failure to adequately process waste water. According to the UB researcher it is imperative to develop and validate an LC-MS method that can simultaneously separate and quantify tenofovir, emtricitabine, efavirenz, lopinavir and ritonavir – all ARV components – in wastewater.
Although Ndlovu and his supervisors managed to develop an LC-MS method that can simultaneously separate and quantify tenofovir, emtricitabine, efavirenz, lopinavir and ritonavir, the UB scientists are of the view that there is need to apply the method in the quantification of these drugs in waste water (at various stages in the treatment cycle).
The most obvious risk of these pharmaceuticals in drinking water is that Batswana will be exposed to greater risks of developing resistance to certain drugs.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.