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Is a six months State of Public Emergency necessary to fight Covid-19?

On 31st March 2020, His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, in terms of section 17 of the Constitution of Botswana (the Constitution), declared a State of Public Emergency (SoPE) to deal with the Corona virus pandemic (Covid-19).

It is this SoPE that the President seeks to be approved by Parliament for a period of six months. It is apposite that we reproduce section 17 of the Constitution considering its centrality to the subject matter.

Section 17(1) provides that “The President may at any time, by Proclamation published in the Gazette, declare that a state of public emergency exists.” It is this section that the President relied upon when he declared the SoPE.

Section 17 (2)(a) provides that “A declaration under subsection (1) of this section, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect in the case of a declaration made when Parliament is sitting or has been summoned to meet within seven days, at the expiration of a period of seven days beginning with the date of publication of the declaration.”

Section 17 (2)(b) provides that “A declaration under subsection (1) of this section, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect in any other case, at the expiration of a period of 21 days beginning with the date of publication of the declaration, unless before the expiration of that period, it is approved by a resolution passed by the National Assembly, supported by the votes of a majority of all the voting members of the Assembly.”

It is because of sections 17(2) (a) and (b) that the President summoned Parliament to sit on 8th April 2020 to consider his motion to approve the SoPE.

Section 17(3) provides that “Subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, a declaration approved by a resolution of the National Assembly under subsection (2) of this section shall continue in force until the expiration of a period of six months beginning with the date of its being so approved or until such earlier date as may be specified in the resolution:  Provided that the National Assembly may, by resolution, supported by the votes of a majority of all the voting members of the Assembly, extend its approval of the declaration for periods of not more than six months at a time.”

It is in terms of 17(3) that the President has asked Parliament to endorse his proposal for the SoPE to last for a period of six months. Section 17(4) provides that “The National Assembly may by resolution at any time revoke a declaration approved by the Assembly under this section.”

It is because of section 17(4) that the President has informed Parliament that should the Covid-19 situation abate he shall lift the SoPE immediately. Of course, the correct position of the law is that, in terms of section 17(4), once Parliament approves the SoPE, it will be for it to revoke the SoPE, not the President.

It is common course that, initially, the President had indicated that since he is only empowered to declare a SoPE that lasts 21 days, he will be seeking Parliament’s endorsement for an additional 7 days to make the SoPE  run for 28 days.

However, the President later mentioned that following expert advice he will be asking Parliament to endorse the SoPE for a period of six months. Indeed, when Parliament resumed on 8th April 2020, the government tabled the motion for a six months SoPE.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) opposed it fiercely and the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Dumelang Saleshando, moved an amendment for the SoPE to run for 28 days but the motion was defeated.

Given the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s majority in Parliament, the approval of the six months SoPE has always been a formality. The question, however, is: Is a six months SoPE necessary to fight Covid-19?

In this article, we attempt to answer this question. In her debate in support of the six months SoPE, Honourable Dr. Unity Dow did so through a framework which I found very useful. I use her framework in this article.

The first concern that she implored us to consider is whether there are no other laws other than section 17 of the Constitution that can be used to fight Covid-19. The UDC has argued that there are. The question is: are there such laws? Before we answer this question, it is apposite that we remind ourselves of some of the things that the President said he wants to achieve through the six months SoPE.

According to him, he needs the SoPE because the Public Health Act is limited in relation to such aspects as expeditious procurement of essential supplies; enhancing the capacity of the health sector; protecting government from lawsuits; deployment of the armed forces, etc.

Let us start with procurement of essential supplies. As you are aware, the law that regulates public procurement and asset disposal is the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Act, Cap.42:08 (PPAD Act).

Section 6 of the PPAD Act provides that “A derogation from the application of the relevant provisions of this Act in respect of sections 4 and 5 may be applied for to the Board, on the prescribed form, by the competent agency responsible for the procurement or disposal in question, with supporting documentation.”

I wish to submit that, in terms of section 6 supra, if, owing to the special circumstances presented by Covid-19, there is a need to depart from the PPAD Act, such a departure is already provided for and may be applied for to the Board.

Section 44 (1) of the PPAD Act provides that “Subject to subsection (2), there shall be no retroactive approval by the Board, or its Committees of any bid issued or invitation to tender by a procuring or disposing entity.”

Section 44 (2) of the PPAD Act provides that “The Board may resolve to issue a retroactive approval of any bid issued or invitation to tender where it is satisfied that a procuring or disposing entity was required to proceed with the bid or invitation due to an urgent requirement or emergency arising from special circumstances.”

I wish to submit that, in terms of section 44(2) supra, if, owing to the special circumstances presented by Covid-19, there is a need to make procurements without prior approval by the Board in terms of the PPAD Act, such procurement can be lawfully done with approval to be made later, retroactively.

The above sections of the PPAD Act can, therefore, allow essential supplies as required during Covid-19 to be procured expeditiously. There is, therefore, no need to rely on the SoPE for such a purpose.

We now deal with the deployment of armed forces. Section 48 (1) of the Constitution provides that “The supreme command of the armed forces of the Republic shall vest in the President and he or she shall hold the office of Commander in Chief.”

Section 48 (2) (a) of the Constitution provides that “The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include the power to determine the operational use of the armed forces.”

It is submitted that the President’s power to determine the operational use of the armed forces can be used to deploy the armed forces for operations related to the fight against Covid-19. There is, therefore, no need to rely on the SoPE for such a purpose.

We now deal with the protection of government from lawsuits, for instance, lawsuits by entities seeking damages against government for its failure to perform its contractual obligations.

Ordinarily, in the law of contract, government would be protected by vis majure clauses. A vis majure clause avails a defence to a party to a contract in the event of such an overwhelming, unanticipated, and unpreventable event as Covid-19. In that case, a party may be exempted from performing its obligations under a contract.

But it goes without saying that some of the contracts government has with other parties have no vis majure clause.   Also, the Public Health Act does not avail a defence of vis majure to government. Therefore, government stands the risk of facing lawsuits, e.g. by companies that incur loss of business as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Through a SoPE, however, government can achieve immunity against such lawsuits. There is, therefore, need to rely on the SoPE for such a purpose. It has been argued that the Public Health Act, Cap.63:01(Cap.63:01) is enough instrument to fight Covid-19. Section 23 (1) of Cap.63:01 provides that “The Director may, by Order published in the Gazette, declare that a public health emergency exists if- (a) the Director is satisfied that the situation so dictates it; and (b) it is not practicable for a declaration of a state of emergency or disaster to be made under the Emergency Powers Act (Cap. 22:04).”

In terms of this section, the Director can only declare that a public health emergency exists not only if he is satisfied that it exists but also if it is not practicable for the declaration to be made by the President. Therefore, the power is not truly of the Director, it is of the President.

Section 23 (2) of Cap.63:01 provides that “A public health emergency declaration made under subsection (1) shall specify- (a) the nature of the public health emergency; (b) the area to which the declaration relates; and (c) the period, not exceeding seven days, during which the declaration shall be in force.”

Section 24 (1) of Cap.63:01 provides that “A public health emergency declaration shall come into force on the date on which it is made and shall continue for the period specified in the declaration.”

Section 24 (2) of Cap.63:01 provides that “The Director may, by Order published in the Gazette, extend the period of a public health emergency declaration as may be necessary.”

In terms of sections 23(2); 24(1) and 24(2) supra, a public health emergency declaration made by the Director is far limited in duration than that made by the President subject to Parliament’s approval. Section 26 (1) of Cap.63:01 provides that “The Director may, in writing, authorize persons or a class of persons to assist him or her in carrying out any direction under this Act.”

Section 26 (2) of Cap.63:01 provides that “A person authorized under subsection (1), or a police officer, in assisting the Director to carry out any direction under this Act, may….”

As stated earlier, the power to deploy the armed forces is a preserve of the President as Commander in Chief in terms of section 48 of the Constitution. This power far outweighs the Director’s power in terms of section 26(2) above.

Therefore, though Cap.63:01 provides powers relating to compensation; public health enquiries; investigation and entry, inspection and seizure in terms of sections 27; 29; 30 and 31 respectively, its powers are far less than those a President has under a SoPE.

Going back to Honourable Dr. Dow’s framework, the next concern should be whether the SoPE seeks to suspend the Constitution?

If it does, it would be problematic in that the President would be able to trample on people’s rights and freedoms. Not only that. The Legislature and the Judiciary, which serve as checks and balances in relation to the Executive, would be suspended.

Nobody has suggested that this SoPE seeks to suspend the Constitution. All it will do, as do all States of Public Emergency, will be to limit people’s rights. It is submitted that if such limitation is reasonable and justifiable and is rationally connected to the purpose it seeks to achieve, then it would be constitutionally permissible.

After all, the Constitution itself permits limitation of human rights and freedoms. Section 16(1) provides that “Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5 or 15 of this Constitution to the extent that the law authorizes the taking during any period when Botswana is at war or any period when a declaration under section 17 of this Constitution is in force, of measures that are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists during that period.”

Should there be any measures taken by the President that are not reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with Covid-19, the courts, which stand guard over our Constitution, will be available for aggrieved parties.

The mandate of the courts is, however, limited by section 3(2) (g) of the Emergency Powers Act, Cap.22:04 (Cap.22:04) which provides that the regulations which the President is empowered to make during a SoPE may provide for the “apprehension, trial and punishment to persons offending against the regulations.”

Solace is, however, found in the proviso to section 3(2) (g) of Cap.22:04 which provides that nothing in this paragraph shall authorize the making of provision for the trial of persons by military courts.

Should there be any measures taken by the President that are not reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with Covid-19, Parliament can revoke the SoPE in terms of Section 17(4) of the Constitution.

Concern has been raised, however, that during the SoPE Parliament may be unable to meet for such a purpose. I am unaware of any law which proscribes Parliament from meeting during a SoPE.

However, because our Parliament is not institutionally independent from the Office of the President (OP), OP may frustrate Parliament’s efforts to meet if the President does not want it to. But because the courts will be operational during the SoPE, it is submitted that Parliament can approach the courts for recourse.

Some have argued that Parliament cannot act in any manner, including approaching the courts, or telling the President anything before the SoPE lapses because it dies the moment it endorses the SoPE. This cannot be correct. Read literally, section 17(4) of the Constitution supra clearly shows that Parliament does not die during the SoPE for if it were so, it would not have the power to revoke the SoPE.

Honourable Dr. Dow has suggested that during the SoPE the President is enjoined to convene Parliament to approve the regulations he may make. This is not correct. In terms of section 3(1) of Cap.22:04, the President does not need Parliament’s approval to make regulations during the SoPE. He makes the regulations acting alone.

It ought to be stated that such regulations may have far reaching implications since, in terms of 3(1) of Cap.22:04, they may provide for the detention and restriction of movement; authorize the taking of possession or control of property or undertaking; and the entering and search of any premises.

Thankfully, the President does not have the power to amend the Constitution during a SoPE. He can, therefore, not amend the Constitution to abolish Parliament and the courts, for instance.

It is, however, disconcerting that the President can, in terms of section 3(2) (d) of Cap.22:04, “make regulations that provide for amending any enactment, for suspending the operation of any enactment and for applying any enactment with or without modification.”

Going back to Honourable Dr. Dow’s framework, the last concern should be whether the period for the SoPE is reasonable and motivated by proper motive?

With respect to this, I shall be very brief for this is dependent on scientific evidence available to government to which I am not privy. The difficulty with this is that the most sacred of human rights, i.e. the right to life, is at stake as a result of Covid-19. No other right takes precedence over this right. In fact, no right can be without the right to life.

However, whatever scientific evidence there is should be balanced with the effect that the SoPE will have on the socio-economic wellbeing of the people. It is needless to say that the SoPE will result in closure of companies, loss of jobs and loss of means of production and sustenance, resulting in unbearable suffering for our people. This, the President should consider judiciously.

Some BDP Members of Parliament (MPs) have suggested that the six-month SoPE does not necessarily translate to a six-month lockdown. For what it is worth, I discuss this matter in the next article.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or anmorima@gmail.com

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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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