The government is planning earlier initiation of the antiretroviral therapy (ART) to all Batswana living with HIV, a virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), as soon as they are found to be positive.
Health Minister Dorcas Makgato revealed the development in an interview with WeekendPost saying the implementation of early initiation of treatment will be done under the most encouraged ‘Test and Treat’ approach.
Referring the ‘Test and Treat’ approach as a move towards ensuring that all Batswana living with the endemic disease do enroll for the ART programme, Makgato said the implementation is expected as soon as the funding is available.
“It is the most practical way for a country battling to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic since it will reduce the transmission of the disease,” said Makgato, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ramokgonami-Maunatlala constituency.
Estimates suggest that between 350 000 and 400 000 Batswana are HIV positive and the government is on a spirited mission to identify and instantaneously enroll all of them on treatment.
According to Makgato, the move to deal with the endemic disease is now focused of prevention more that treatment. She said prevention is better than cure saying the exercise is an add-on to a number of preventative interventions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
â€¨Makgato said government was currently studying the full financial implications of testing the whole nation for HIV, in the effort to implement the 90-90- 90 programme aimed at reaching 90percent of the population knowing its status.
â€¨‘Test and Treat’ approach is a new global strategy that sets ambitious targets for combating AIDS and the government wants to domesticate this stratagem, which dictates that by the year 2020, the aim is to have 90 per cent of all people living with HIV aware of their status.
“Furthermore, 90percent of those diagnosed would receive regular antiretroviral therapy,” said Makgato, adding that at least 90percent of people being treated will have lasting viral suppression thereby minimizing the risk of transmitting it to the next person.
Late last year, USAID Country Representative Blake Chrystal told a New Direction in Global Health seminar at Kasane that moving towards earlier initiation of treatment is strongly supported by the recent international randomized clinical trial.
Codenamed START trial, the randomized clinical trial found HIV-infected individuals on early treatment having considerably lower risk of developing full blown AIDS or other serious illnesses than those who delay initiation.
Chrystal added that the treatment also cats as prevention by lowering the risk of transmission to uninfected sexual partners saying World Health Organization (WHO) and US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are encouraging countries to consider ‘Test and Treat’ option.
On September 30 2015, the WHO made a recommendation urging member states to treat all people living with the endemic HIV, offer antiretroviral drugs as additional prevention choice for people at “substantial” risk of contracting the disease.
According to the WHO, new policies could help avert more than 21 million deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
This new recommendation builds on 2014 WHO guidance to offer a combination of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV acquisition, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), for men who have sex with men.
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.