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The unsung heroes of medicine

Everyone who has been to either a clinic or hospital is familiar with a doctor. They alongside nurses and physiotherapists have direct contact with patients and as a result the public holds medical doctors in high esteem. Parents encourage their children to become doctors, and students with an aptitude for science aspire to be physicians.

The importance of medical doctors is indisputable but there are other medical professionals just as important but often over looked. Chief among the over looked medical professionals are Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS professionals).  

They are the scientists who handle stool, urine, blood and all manner of samples from the human body to conduct tests which will identify the cause of illness. They are the pillar upon which evidence based medicine stands on.

Without diagnostic tests being carried out doctors rely on clinical methods to determine the cause of illness in a patient. Clinical methods rely on an assessment of symptoms manifesting in the patient and they do not guarantee an accurate diagnosis. The uncertainty of clinical tests makes laboratory tests all the more important regardless of their expense because a wrong diagnosis is a potential disaster.

Tapiwa Mugadza, a MLS professional at Optimum Health laboratories advocates strongly for evidence based medicine. When asked if there can ever be a compromise on laboratory tests he said, “there should be no compromise on evidence based medicine, it can cost individuals and institutions significant monetary losses in miss-prescribed drugs and worse still, false diagnosis may result in loss of life” He goes on to describe circumstances in which both can occur.

In one scenario a doctor after assessing the symptoms of a patient identifies that the patient is anaemic. Assuming the patient has an iron deficiency the physician goes on to prescribe iron tablets, yet the reality is that the patient’s anemia is due to a low platelet count.

Though the doctor may eventually realise the error and prescribe the correct treatment iron tablets would have been wasted. Such an error is costly to the patient who purchases their own drugs, it is costly to medical aid companies which cover cost of treatment for their clients and it is costly to tax payers whose money runs public clinics and hospitals.

In another situation a patient has meningitis; meningitis can either be caused by a virus, fungus or bacteria. The appropriate treatment depends on which type of meningitis it is and a delay in treatment can be fatal. To prevent unnecessary loss of life it is important that a laboratory test be done to determine the cause of meningitis and consequently apply the correct treatment.

Such errors are not common place in Botswana because there are plenty of laboratories both public and private such as Diagnofirm which are available to ensure the standards of evidence based medicine are upheld.

Dr. Denys R. Estrada a Dermatologist at Letlalo Skin Medical Centre also believes strongly in the importance of laboratory tests but he points out that in a field such as dermatology clinical examinations are often enough to correctly diagnose a patient. He adds that there are very few circumstances in which a laboratory test will be needed to determine the cause of a skin condition.

The importance of medical laboratory science has not gone unnoticed by key policy makers in government. Since 2008 the University of Botswana (UB) has been steadily making major strides in improving the curriculum of this science.

Mr. Modisa Motswaledi the Head of the School of Allied Health Professions and the President of the Botswana Institute for Clinical Laboratory Professionals is particularly proud of the progress UB has made. He points out that the B.Sc. in cytototechnology and B.Sc. in histotechnology offered at UB are not available in most African countries. This means that UB is not only training scientists for Botswana alone but for the whole of Africa.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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