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Recognition of former presidents: the case of Festus Gontebanye Mogae

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Last week we considered the recognition or lack thereof of former President Sir Ketumile Masire. This week we consider Masire’s successor, Festus Gontebanye Mogae. Just like we did with Masire, we first attempt to answer the question: who is Festus Gontebanye Mogae? To answer this question we rely on his biographical information published by the Botswana government.

Mogae, a commoner from a minor tribe of Batalaote, matriculated at Moeng College and went on to train as an Economist at the Universities of Oxford and Sussex in the United Kingdom. He took up the post of Planning Officer in 1968 and progressed to become Director of Economic Affairs. He was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning from 1975 to 1976.

Mogae became Alternate Governor for Botswana at the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1971 to 1976. He served in various parastatal boards including Water Utilities, Botswana Housing Corporation, Botswana Meat Commission, Botswana Meat Commission (United Kingdom) Holdings, ECCO Cold Stores Limited and Allied Meat Importers Limited.

Mogae was also Director, and later Chairman of the Botswana Development Corporation, Representative of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, Director of the De Beers Botswana Mining Company (Pty) Limited (Diamond Mining Company), Botswana RST Limited, BamaNgwato Concessions Limited (BCL) and Bank of Botswana.

Mogae served in Washington DC as Alternate and Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for Anglophone Africa from 1976 to 1980. He then came home to take up the position of Governor of the Bank of Botswana which he held from 1980 to 1981.

From 1982 to 1989 Mogae was Permanent Secretary to the President, Secretary to the Cabinet and Supervisor of Elections. He was appointed Minister of Finance and Development Planning in 1989. He ascended to the Vice Presidency in 1992, a position he held until 31st March, 1998 when he became the third President of the Republic of Botswana following Masire’s retirement.

Mogae was Governor for Botswana for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Member of the Joint Development Committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the transfer of real resources to developing countries, Washington DC from 1989 to 1990.

He was also involved in community oriented organizations which include Kalahari Conservation Society, Botswana Society (Research Organization) of which he became President, Lions Club of Palapye, President of the Botswana Society for the Deaf as well as being Patron of Junior Achievement Botswana.

Mogae also became Chairman of the National AIDS Council which was launched 30 March 2000.     He was awarded the highest honor of the Republic of Botswana, Naledi Ya Botswana – Gaborone on 30th September 2003 and the Presidential Order of Honour of Botswana in 1989. Mogae was also awarded the Officier de I’Order Nationale D’e Cote d’Ivoire (1979); I’Order Nationale du Mali and the HATAB’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Botswana’s Tourism Industry (1997).

Mogae was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws – University of Botswana in September 1998; the Global Marketplace Award by the Corporate Council on Africa – Houston, USA in May 1999; an Honorary Fellowship of the Botswana Institute of Bankers – Gaborone, Botswana in July 1999; the Distinguished Achievement Award for AIDS Leadership in Southern Africa by the Medunsa Trust – Washington DC, USA in June 2000.

Additionally, Mogae was awarded the AIDS Leadership Award by Harvard AIDS Institute – Gaborone in December 2001; the 2002 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference Weekend Chairman’s Award –Washington D.C., USA in September 2002; the Africa-America Institute National Leadership Award – New York, USA in September 2002 and the Honorary Fellow –University College Oxford in 2003.

Adding to his awards is The Knight Commander of the Most Courteous Order of the Kingdom of Lesotho – Maseru, Lesotho in April 2004; the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) International Leadership Award –Gaborone in October 2004; the Golden Plate Award by the Academy of Achievement -New York, USA in June 2005 and the Grand Croix – Highest award in Madagascar grated to dignitaries of the Nation Antananarivo, Madagascar in June 2006.

Other of Mogae’s awards include the Pan African Tsetse and Tryponofomiasis (PATTEC) by the African Union – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007, Doctorate of Humanity by the University of Limkokwing, Gaborone Botswana in January 2008; The Commander of the Legion d’Honneur Grand Croix of the Republic of France – Paris, France in March 2008 and Taylor and Francis Award for significant contribution to women’s development and welfare – Gaborone, Botswana in July 2008.

It is apposite that before we consider whether or not Mogae is getting the recognition he deserves we should have a cursory discussion of the achievements and failures of his presidency. I say cursory because the achievements and failures of a person of Mogae’s stature cannot be adequately discussed in an article of this sort. It requires a book.

In discussing Mogae’s achievements and failures we consider his performance in the area of politics within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP); his performance as Minister of Finance and Development Planning; his performance as Vice President and President; his performance in the international community; his general social life and his conduct after he retired as president.

Firstly, his performance as a politician. Evidently, Mogae was more of a technocrat than a politician. This is probably because of his strong educational back ground in economics and his colorful career as a civil servant and diplomat.

The aforegoing notwithstanding, in 1994, Mogae contested in the general elections under the BDP and won the Palapye constituency. He was an active member of the Botswana Democratic Party and served in various committees of the party including the Central Committee (CC). He was Chairman of the CC’s Finance and Economic Committee, and Member of the CC responsible for Letswapo Region from 1992 to 1995.

Mogae’s political detractors blame him for a leadership style of favoritism and purging which allowed the continued existence of factionalism within the party. His detractors contend that he failed to curb the factionalism which started during Masire’s tenure. They argue that it is his kids gloves’ treatment of then Vice President Khama which further fermented factionalism within the party.

By his own admission, Mogae did not do well in introducing critical political reforms. Asked by Tefo Pheage of Mmegi newspaper in October 2015 whether he has any regrets he said “Of course yes, my failure to introduce a quota system for women to improve their political representation and my failure to scrap off our current electoral system to replace it with either proportional representation or anything along those lines to accommodate the marginalized groups.”

As reported in the Sunday Standard newspaper edition of 1st April 2007, Mogae rejected such key electoral reforms as proportional representation, direct presidential elections and political party funding though he has reportedly kept an open mind about the latter.   
 
Secondly, his performance as Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Owing to his strong academic background in Economics and his career both locally and internationally as shown by his biography, Mogae performed exceptionally well as Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Consequently, during his tenure as minister and even when he was Vice President and President, Botswana enjoyed unparalleled economic growth.   

Thirdly, his performance as Vice President and President. The highlight of Mogae’s Presidency is his prioritization of the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He was the face of the ‘Ntwa e Bolotse’ campaign which saw the establishment and strengthening of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) and the National AIDS Council (NAC) which he personally chaired.

It is Mogae’s prioritization of the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic which led to the arrival of such international organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s African Youth Alliance (AYA) project and the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP) which assisted the government and local non-governmental organizations in the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Perhaps the most telling of Mogae’s presidency is his decision for the government to provide anti-retroviral treatment to those that are HIV positive and/or have AIDS. At the time when such other presidents as former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, were in denial, Mogae acted decisively by ensuring the provision of free anti-retroviral treatment and supporting and partly funding the establishment of such counselling and testing centers as Tebelopele Voluntary Testing & Counselling Centre.

Mogae will also be remembered as a president who, in defence of Botswana’s diamond trade, fought against Survival International (SI)’s campaigns to label Botswana’s diamonds as ‘blood diamonds’, alleging that the real reason why government relocated Basarwa from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) was for diamond exploration and mining.

SI’s campaign, which involved Roy Sesana and the First People of the Kgalagadi, led to a court battle which though government lost with the court holding that it was unlawful for Basarwa to be relocated from their birth land, government compelled many Basarwa to relocate through disconnection of such facilities as water.   

According to an article by Dr. Botswiri Oupa Tsheko in the Sunday Standard newspaper edition of 27th January 2008 when Mogae left office in 2008, “Botswana was classified as an upper middle-income country with approximately 7000 kilometers of tarred roads, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in 2004 of approximately US$3000, almost universal free education, 68 percent adult literacy, four doctors per thousand population, and infant mortality of approximately 58 per 1000 live births”.

Dr. Tsheko also states that “Botswana was awarded the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa by both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s in 2004. A combination of effective institutions, political stability and sound economic policies allowed Botswana to successfully harvest natural resource abundance in diamonds. Botswana has become the second largest diamond volume producer in the world after Australia, and the largest producer in terms of output value”.

While this admirable economic record cannot be solely attributed to Mogae to the exclusion of his predecessors, he played a critical role in the realization of such an enviable record from the time he was Planning Officer in the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning to the time he retired from the presidency. He indeed lived the Vision 2016 ideals which he in fact championed throughout his tenure.

At no time during his presidency was Mogae proven to be corrupt. He ruled well and avoided populist measures which are often exploited for corrupt purposes. He was, however, accused of maladministration when he granted his then Vice President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, an unprecedented sabbatical leave and allowed him to fly Botswana Defence Force (BDF) military aircraft.     

Fourthly, his performance in the international community. Mogae was Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers from 1992 until 1996. Mogae was also Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Member of the Parliamentarians for Global Action based in New York and the Global Coalition for Africa based in Washington D.C.

Fifthly, his general social life. Demonstrating his value for the family as the basic unit of society, Rra Nametso is married and has children. That notwithstanding, his name was tainted by unconfirmed allegations of lack of marital peace to the extent that at some time there were allegations of an imminent marital separation or divorce.

Still in his social realm, Mogae’s reputation was tainted by unconfirmed allegations of alcohol abuse. Allegations of parental neglect especially in relation to his father, Ditlhabano Mogae, also did not do good to Mogae’s reputation. Those who attended his father’s burial claimed that his father’s home did not resemble that of the father to the state president.

Batswana came to know Mogae as a straight talker who lacked diplomacy. But, they still adored him and even today often relate the story where Mogae, during a Kgotla meeting in Mogoditshane following the demolition of squatters’ houses, took on a person making a mockery of him and said “Oo, ga o nkomanya lenna ke tla ke tlaa go ikomanyetsa…”

Sixthly, his conduct after his retirement on 31st March 2008. After retirement, Mogae continued with his fight against HIV/AIDS by chairing the NAC. He also became a champion of such issues as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people and commercial sex workers’ rights in as far as access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment measures are concerned.

Post retirement, Mogae has also participated in peace keeping missions. Together with former Mali President, Alpha Oumar Konare and Former Prime Minister of Djibouti, Dileita Mohamed Dileita, he, in 2014, made up a team of the African Union High-Level Panel for Egypt.

In 2013, Mogae and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, joined a team from the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government (the Africa Forum) that mediated in the Lake Niassa border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.

In October 2015, the Chairman of the East African Regional Bloc Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, appointed Mogae as chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for South Sudan. He heads the commission that monitors the implementation of the agreement to resolve the conflict in South Sudan.

Post retirement, Mogae has also commented on several national issues relating to good governance, inner party democracy and the treatment of such minority groups as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people and commercial sex workers. Unfortunately, just like Masire, this has earned him scorn from the BDP and president Khama who have blamed him for trying to rule from the grave.  

In view of Mogae’s outstanding achievements as shown above, I was surprised when I realized that there is nothing Botswana has named in his honor. I say honor and not remembrance because I believe that our heroes and heroines should be celebrated during their lifetime and not only remembered when they are dead. A life not celebrated in life is a life killed.
 
Is it not an embarrassment that there is no single road, street, stadium, school, clinic or hospital named after Mogae? Would we rather call our streets by such weird and divisive names as Ditimamolelo and Marapoathutwa than ‘Festus Gontebanye Mogae’? Would we rather name our streets and roads after foreign former presidents than our own former presidents?

Lefesto, as he is affectionately called, deserves to have something named after him during his lifetime and not when he has departed this world. So does former president Sir Ketumile Masire. And so does President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. Queen Elizabeth II too may wish to consider conferring a knighthood on Mogae just like she did for Masire and the late Sir Seretse Khama.

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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