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Boitekanelo College: driving Botswana health education


The coming into being of Boitekanelo College, the only private healthcare training institution in the country, is a remarkable story of grits and a burning ambition to see a vision come to fruition. Boitekanelo is one of the home grown concepts that have become regional and international players, in the development of human capital in the healthcare space.

Having identified that Government cannot bear the responsibility of healthcare training all by itself, one Dr Tiroyaone Mampane set out to build a training institute that is set to make Botswana a regional hub for healthcare training.

“Governments around the world, ours included, have come to realize that  healthcare training can not be left as the responsibility of Government alone,” said Ketlogetswe Montshiwa, Director-Strategy and Institutional Planning at Boitekanelo, during an interview with WeekendPost this week.

In his early thirties, the founder, president and managing director of Boitekanelo, Dr Tiroyaone Mampane, is said to have opted mostly for night duty, while he was within the public service. This was so that he could, during the day, run around with the very tedious tasks of setting up the institute. Close to eight years now, Boitekanelo College has been in operation, having moved into a multi million pula state of the art facility in Tlokweng.

As a strategy to enter the market, the College offered quality healthcare related programmes that were not offered by the mainstream public institutions, the Institutes of Health Sciences. This has since helped to place Boitekanelo among the premier health care training institutions not only in Botswana, but in the region. Dr Mampane did not aim to realize this vision alone,  he roped in those who believed in it and they assisted him to turn his dream into reality.

Ms Montshiwa told this publication that: “Governance structures were put in place from the very beginning and that, together with leadership by an entrepreneur and highly qualified staff, is the secret to the success of Boitekanelo College. We have a board of governors comprising of high caliber individuals who are leading in the various fields of finance, legal, medicine and human resources.  The academic council oversees issues of quality and standards. We have , an in house quality assurance manager and a curriculum development specialist, something that is international best practice.”

“Being a private institution  is an added advantage because we have flexibility that allows us to quickly respond to market needs unlike Government where new ideas have to be taken through lengthy decision making and budget processes.”

She added that: “Short term programmes and attracting full time studenst from abroad are the key to the future sustainability for the College; we aim to run Boitekanelo as a business and we want to avoid a situation where we are affected if the level of government sponsored students declines significantly.”

Montshiwa said that the College has various international partnerships with eminent institutions such as Duke University in the United States, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and The  Cape Peninsula University of Technology which has helped to develop the emergency care programmes for Boitenakelo as well as the Swaziland Ministry of Health, to name a few.

“We have a regional footprint and we have attracted students from as far as Nigeria, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.”

Currently operating on two Campuses; Tlokweng and Mogoditshane the College is on course to complete a school of nursing later this year, and anticipates that it will start training nurses from January 2016. This will bring the intake of student to well over 3000 from the current 2800.

Boitekanelo sets the bar high, offering a diploma in Clinical Technology, a program not widely offered even in South Africa where only 3 universities have it. A qualified Clinical Technologist would be specialized in one of seven specialization areas: Cardiology, pulmonology, critical care, nephrology, reproductive biology, perfusion, and neurophysiology. Clinical Technology graduates would be almost guaranteed employment in this very difficult economic climate. The story of Boitekanelo College is highly inspirational.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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