The Ministry of Health and Wellness has clarified the controversial issue on whether the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) self-testing is legal in Botswana.
In clarification, the Ministry made reference to Section 119 of the Public Health Act, read with the definition of “HIV test” in section 2 and section 105 (4) of the Act, which indicates that the law only prohibits diagnostic HIV testing, if conducted in structures/facilities that have not been approved by the Minister.
According to the Ministry, the difference between screening and diagnostic HIV tests is that the screening test only predicts the presence of HIV in an individual while the diagnostic HIV test confirms the presence of HIV in an individual.
“Diagnostic HIV test results are therefore regarded as valid and conclusive, while screening tests are preliminary and inconclusive. If the results of a screening test are positive, a diagnostic test is done to confirm the results,” read a statement from the press release.
Moreover, it is explained that the diagnostic test is conducted by a medical practitioner or an approved health care worker, in an approved structure or facility, to ensure the privacy of patients, and to avail the necessary counselling prior to and after the testing. Therefore, this means that HIV self-testing falls under the ambit of HIV screening tests.
“Pursuit to its mandate to encourage people to know their HIV status, the Ministry of Health and Wellness sometimes gives HIV self-tests kits to individuals whose partners are unable to come to a health facility upon learning of their results, for confirmation purposes, failing which the ministry would devise other means of reaching them.”
The position of the ministry is that the Public Health Act does not prohibit HIV self-testing, as a screening modality. The ministry therefore, encourages all members of the public to take responsibility of their health by amongst others, actively participating in activities meant to help them know their HIV status.
The statement by Ministry of Health was in response to a contention by human rights lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi that, “in Botswana, home testing is illegal and the punishment is steep.”
He quoted Sections 119, 120 and 176 of the Public Health Act to support his contention.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.