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Botswana hopes on UK medical experts to crack COVID-19 burden

Minister Dikoloti

World Health Organization (WHO), through its Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) initiative, has sent United Kingdom medical experts to fight COVID-19 in Botswana. 

EMTs are groups of health professionals (doctors, nurses, paramedics, among others) that treat patients affected by an emergency or disaster. They come from governments, charities (NGOs), militaries, and international organizations such as the International Red Cross/Red Crescent movement.

These experts comply with the classification and minimum standards set by WHO and its partners and come trained and self-sufficient to not burden the national system. When speaking at the presentation of the team members, Minister of Health and Wellness Edwin Dikoloti said Botswana continues to record high numbers of deaths and patient admissions as a result of COVID-19 infections. Therefore, he said, the country needs innovative and effective response mechanisms to bring the pandemic under control. This deployment of medical experts, he said, is one such intervention to curb COVID-19.

Dikoloti underlined that Botswana’s resources have grossly diminished and the capacity to address the critical health care needs is highly compromised. “Our economy is taking a great knock as a result of the pandemic, in the process weakening the health system. Supply of health commodities, especially vaccines, is greatly outpaced by the great global demand of this vital medical commodity.”

The Health Minister indicated that this was made possible by the diplomatic relationship Botswana established with Britain. “It is for this reason that we officially receive the British Emergency Medical team. The arrival and deployment of this medical team will undoubtedly add value to our response energies and complement our efforts in the implementation of the response plan, specifically with regards to the management of COVID-19 positive patients.”

Botswana has adopted a multi-pronged approach to managing COVID-19, Dikoloti claims. Asymptomatic and mild cases are isolated at home, while critical cases are referred to health facilities for management. With the more infectious Delta Variant, Botswana faces pressing challenges such as a shortage of resources, including human expertise to attend to these growing numbers and complexity of infections.

“It is for this reason that I look forward to the fruitful collaboration and skills exchange between Botswana Medical Teams and the visiting UK medical team. I do not doubt that the Botswana medical teams will benefit from the experiences that the UK team has accumulated over time.”

MASISI CRIES FOR HELP FROM THE US

This week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi appealed to the President of the United States of America, Joseph Biden, to assist Botswana with COVID 19 vaccines. He said the assistance could either be through the sale of excess vaccines that the USA has or in the form of a donation. Masisi made this call during his meeting with Ambassador Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Ambassador Nuland is the first senior official in the Biden administration to visit Botswana. Masisi expressed frustration with vaccine distribution which he said has resulted in the loss of lives. He said Botswana has put many development projects on hold and channeled money towards the fight against COVID 19, which includes payment of vaccines.

Ambassador Nuland said the US Government takes note of President Masisi’s efforts. Nuland said they are amazingly impressed with what SADC is doing in Mozambique under Masisi’s leadership of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense, and Security.

THE US DONATES VACCINES TO ESWATINI, SOUTH AFRICA

Meanwhile, American President Joseph Biden has donated 302 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to eSwatini. Minister of Health for the Kingdom said the government plans to utilize the vaccine for the entire month, using multiple, parallel highways to deliver the vaccines. The US also donated 5.7 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s global efforts to fight the deadly pandemic.

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Mental health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic 

24th September 2021
Mental Health

With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is   significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.

In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).

The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.

It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.

The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).

The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.

The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum  in  Ghanzi, was  from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.

The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.

The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.

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GMES & Africa Southern Africa to hold a Regional Stakeholder Workshop on Earth Observation Technologies

24th September 2021
GMESAfrica

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.

It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.

In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCO[1]South). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.

CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.

The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.

The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.

This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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