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State Of The Nation Address: My Simplified And Honest Perspective!

Bernard Busani

 

I think almost everyone now knows why we should have an annual state of the nation address by the first citizen. This is to essentially tell the nation what his government has achieved in terms of the development priorities he has promised the nation. 

 

Top of the agenda for our president should be what he personally promised the nation at the last election. He personally gave each person a person card; a red card as he called, a red card that had five priority areas. I still carry mine.  If he has forgotten about this red card, we shall continue to remind him about it as it matters to us and the nation.

 

His red card which ominously means that if he fails to deliver on the promises defined in the card, he and his government will be red carded and removed from power in 2019 or earlier. Let us remind our first citizen what the card contained and this should have been included in the state of the nation address.

 

In the next five years, the BDP promises to—

  1. Make job creation priority number 1: divert significant resources to fighting unemployment particularly among our youth
  2. Take Batswana out of poverty: strengthen and increase the scope of our poverty eradication program and social safety net though programs such as LIMID, ISPAAD, the Economic Diversification Drive, Presidential Housing Appeal and Youth Empowerment Scheme:
  3. Increase Education Funding; improve quality and performance by building more classrooms and improving teacher’s welfare.
  4. Eliminate mother to child HIV transmission: provide highly active antiretroviral therapy to all HIV positive pregnant women and dramatically reduce maternal death by increasing the quality of rural healthcare.
  5.  Fight corruption in all its manifestation:  a zero tolerance  approach to corruption

 

At the bottom of the card which card was duly signed by his Excellency, the president, Dr Ian Khama, the card closes by saying, ‘keep this card and see that we keep our promises’ I HAVE KEPT MINE, I WANT TO SEE THE RESULTS.

 

These promises are very clear and can easily be turned into measurable objectives and goals for the president and His government. Achieving these promises would go a long way in addressing the challenges bedeviling this nation. ALL Batswana demand feedback through the sate of the nation address on these five priority areas.

 

These five priority areas contain all the major challenges facing the country and its citizens; we expect the president to address these comprehensively in his state of the nation address each year giving specific deliverables.

 

Other peripheral issues like the world global economic outlook, broad supporting programs and other niceties can be included as appendices for academics and international interests. The nation wants to hear about the bread and butter issues which the president promised as he traversed daily through out the country, by the way unfairly being financed by public funds during the 2014 election campaigns. He owes the nation and the above must be addressed comprehensively. This is what i mean by comprehensive feedback to the nation.

 

  1. JOB CREATION

The president must report how many jobs have been created since he took office or since the last election.  He must state how many jobs have been lost during the same period; further explaining where and why these jobs where lost.

 

He must further explain what programs are in place to create what jobs, numbers of such jobs and specifically what his government is doing to ensure that jobs are protected and continually enhanced. Still on job creation he should explain comprehensively the short to long term impact of the programs such as Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) now a swear word to many.

 

By the way, ESP if intelligently structured and not used for political posturing and expediency could create short term as well as long term jobs. ASK ME HOW? Even ipelegeng if intelligently and properly structured could create long term and high quality jobs. ASK ME HOW?

 

  1. TAKE BATSWANA OUT OF POVERTY

 

What a promise!  Who wants to live in poverty? First of all the president and his government must have identified the number of people living in poverty, then using the programs he highlighted in this card indicate how many people would be removed from poverty by these programs and how many have actually been removed from that list.

 

He must further state how he would then ensure that people stay out of the poverty list?  Some kind of a sustainability index to measure quality of such programs may be devised to track the success of each of these programs.

 

  1. INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING
  2.  

This one would have been very easy to measure. You increase quality and performance by building more schools and improving teacher’s welfare. The teachers must have been smiling as well as the parents and students when they heard this promise.

 

But how many new schools have been built and how has this reduced the teacher student ratio? What programs have been introduced to improve the teacher’s welfare?  I see a deteriorating student teacher’s ratio and worsening teacher’s welfare occasioned by tense relations with the government due to long working hours and refusing to pay due overtime How did the president intend to increase teacher’s welfare without even looking at their pay structure  and ensuring that it is commensurate with their responsibilities and their position in society.

 

Our teachers are earning starving salaries and deserve more.  The government has recently taken away the teacher’s right to strike; wrongly and dangerously misinterpreting the definition of essential service. Using their definition all jobs are essential jobs and therefore no worker should be given the right to strike. This has gone real too far Mr. President. 

 

  1. ELIMINATE MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV

 

I am not sure whether the President has introduced anything new to fight HIV and AIDS, particularly new intervention on the mother to child crosses transmission as promised. The interventions in place from my understanding are those from the Mogae presidency.

 

We now hear of increased new infection on the young people, which means that our objective of zero new HIV infections has dismally failed.  The way the male circumcision has been sold as an HIV transmission reduction strategy was wrong and now a total failure leading rather to young people believing that if this would reduce possible infection by 60%, to a young person even an old inadequately informed person it may mean that one can take a risk of unprotected sex and escape infection. We now sadly see an increase in new infection on the youth and perhaps others.

 

I believe it is because we failed to take a deep breath to analyse the implications both positive and negative of this intervention before we implemented it. Surely before we borrow interventions any intervention for that matter from others we have to adapt to our own circumstances taking into account our own understanding of the immediate world around us.

 

Male circumcision should have been sold as a health issue and nothing else; a practice that has long existed even before the birth of Christ. Taking religion out of it circumcision was simply a hygiene/health issue, nothing else.

 

  1. FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN ALL ITS MANIFESTATION

 

What new interventions have been introduced to fight corruption? I am not away of any. What is clear to most of us is that the level of corruption and perceived corruption is growing in leaps and bounds. Even the long talked about declaration of assets by our legislature has failed to materialise, only flaming the suspicion fires that corruption is indeed widespread in high places; hence declaration of assets legislation would open a Pandora box in which hidden corrupt and heinous activities are placed in secrecy.

 

CONCLUSION

 

It is no wonder why the president does not address these five priority areas he promised Batswana in 2014, the failure is  phenomenal and very embarrassing to say the least. Batswana should however continue to remind him of these five promises and demand delivery.

 

If the president was a student being tested on the five promises he made to Batswana, he would obtained zero marks for each one of these; a total failure and discontinue verdict would be the outcome. He will be red carded and removed from power

 

In summary he has failed to create jobs, instead he has lost over 30 000 to 40 000 direct and indirect jobs in a very short period.  As a result he has increase the number of people joining the poverty trap and thereby instead of taking Batswana out of poverty he has instead condemned them to the horrors of poverty.

 

On education, the quality of education continues to deteriorate with no notable new schools being built; with the number of sponsored students having dropped by close to 20 % and the University of Botswana being threatened with possible closure. In so far as HIV/Aids is concerned we see an increase instead of reduction of new infections. 

 

Well how about fighting corruption? I have not seen any intervention or any statistic that shows me that we have achieved anything in this area. The president gets straight zeros and must therefore be red carded and discontinued.

 

Listening to the president state of the nation address and comparing it with the response from the leader of opposition in parliament, it is clear that this country has a viable and suitable alternative right now, 2019 is just too far. The commander in chief has failed the nation and continues to lead our country toward economic and social ruin.

 

The closure of BCL, especially how it happened; the pronounced eminent sale of Morupule B, must be the last straws even for the diehard BDP stalwarts. However only those BDP stalwarts with a modicum of conscience and self respect will agree with this assessment and will therefore start taking corrective action before too long.

Bernard Busani

E mail address: bernard.busani@gmail.com      Tell: 71751440

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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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