Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) on 24 February 2015 launched yet another innovation under their mobile health innovation competition, Mhealth.
Mhealth refers to the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices to provide health services and information. The field mostly emerges as a means of providing greater access to segments of a population in developing countries, as well as improving the capacity of health systems in such countries to provide quality healthcare.
Nonetheless African countries such as Rwanda and Kenya have taken tremendous strides in the utilizing the MHealth platform and are sharing with the world the impact of such mobile technology.
While giving his welcome remarks during the launch Dr Kabelo Mokgacha from the Ministry of Health said the global scale innovators are developing life changing applications that one from his generation could have never imagined such as a mobile tool that would help doctors determine the right amount of insulin to give a diabetic patient as well as a mobile tool that links expectant mothers to gestation age-specific pregnancy information.
He said as the Ministry of Health, they realize this is an important step aimed at bringing together the different stakeholders active in the health landscape in Botswana and appealing to the youth to bring forth their creative abilities in nurturing an opportunity in mobile Health.
He said as the department responsible for monitoring “all things data” in the Botswana health system they fully maintain their role in this collaborative effort and encourage youth to come up with sustainable and rigorous technologies in this arena.
The initiative that was launched 3 years ago is seen as contributing towards the transformation of a mineral based economy to a knowledge based economy. The 2013 MHealth award recipients Derrick Khupe and Billy Batlegang presented their Mobile Text which they referred to as a simple proto- type system which was developed in Java.
According to the duo, through their innovation, expecting mothers could register and keep on receiving messages updating them on their pregnancy on their mobile phones. They are currently partnering with Orange Botswana to pilot the project.
The 2014 winners Team Black Oak developed a data base system which will keep patients’ medical history. According to this team of three ladies the system will help in situations where a patient is unconscious and doctors need their medical history, saying it could help for problems such as allergies.
The project known as Poloko was given thumbs up by the Ministry of Health and assured the developers that they would work with them since they were also engaged in a project similar to that one at the Ministry.
Orange Botswana’s Director of Corporate Affairs Lepata Mafa, said they have been part of this initiative since inception in 2013, their main aim with all partners is to leverage on mobile penetration to support the public health care system. “Orange strongly believers in using ICT for sustainable development, as a mobile and technology provider, they believe that technology is a critical element of social development,” Mafa said.
As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy which seeks to promote sustainable development Orange currently has an on-going mobile health or Telemedicine project with the Ministry of Health known as Kgonafalo. This is a mobile diagnostic platform which is currently used for cervical cancer screening, dermatology and Oral diseases diagnosis and radiology.
Nurses in remote areas are able to communicate with health specialists in towns, who then assist the nurses to give a quick diagnosis of the patient’s ailment. This saves time for patients as they avoid travelling to main towns to consult the specialists.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.