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Fear as hundreds of nurses practise illegally

Hundreds of nurses across the country are practicing illegally because their practice certificates have not been renewed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB), this publication can reveal.

The result is that a row has broken out between nurses and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB) over registration and renewal of practice certificates.There are fears that some nurses may not practise after it emerged that there was delay in issuing practice certificates by NMCB.

The NMCB which is a body that safeguards these standards, upholds and monitors the quality of nursing education and practice through its regulatory mandate accuses nurses of late submission for late renewal of their certificates while nurse accuses it of being incompetent.

Information reaching this publication indicates that hundreds of nurses and nursing educators practitioners had paid for the renewal of their practicing certificates since last year but they are yet to be issued with valid practicing certificates by the regulating body.

Majority of nurses who are members of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) then approached their union requesting it to intervene in the matter. BONU reportedly wrote a letter to NMCB complaining among others backlog in renewal of practicing certificates.

In the letter dared 11 February, BONUS secretary general Lebogang Phillip states that BONU is overwhelmed with grievances regarding non issuance of 2022 practice licenses by Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana.He said the nurses were complaining that all necessary documents for registration renewal have been timely submitted but they have not received their practice certificates.

DHMTs management across the country are demanding for the 2022 practice certificates as the registration period has elapsed. There are fears that nurses might be sanctioned for not producing valid 2022 practice certificates though the cause is reason beyond their control.

He added that, Kindly inform us of the progress of issuance of 2022 practice certificates and when the situation will normalise. Moreover, BONU request your esteemed office to issue a statement to the DHMTs management regarding the delay of 2022 practice certificates so as to protect the registrants from any form of victimisation.

But BONU got more than what it bargained for as the regulatory body came with guns blazing accusing the union of harassment and warned it that it welcomed individual complaints from nurses and not the union.

In a strongly worded letter, dated 11 February 2022, NMCB Registrar Hannah Kau-Kigo informed BONU Secretary General that registration and or renewal of practicing certificates are an individual nurses responsibility and therefore NMCB would gladly receive individual complaints.

The letter titled Non issuance of 2022 nurses and midwives practice certificates also states that the stated issues raised by BONU on behalf of its members are not true. According to Kau-Kigo, Not all documents for registration renewals have been timely submitted as alleged.

She said the documents were submitted very late and even today NMCB is still receiving packages from facilities. She added that matrons are the custodian of payment at the decentralised places and work closely with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) and therefore are aware of what is happening on the ground.

Sanctioning of Nurses who do not have practicing certificates are validated through NMCB, therefore the issues for not producing 2022 certificates for those who have duly paid is farfetched as misconstrued by yourself, she said.

In view of the above, Kau-Kigo said, NMC B work closely with the Chief Nursing Officer ( CNO) at the Ministry of Health and Wellness as she is the overseer at the National Level, adding that so anything to do with nursing practice is communicated directly to the CNO to share with the facilities.

Any query regarding renewal of registration by the DMHT (District Management Health Team) should be directly communicated or forwarded to NMCB as the Regulatory Body charged with renewal/registration, she said. As a parting shot, Kau-Kigo said NMCB secretariat is concerned with harassment by BONU through your esteemed office. This seems to be escalating on yearly basis.

Some nurses who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed they have paid for nursing licenses and later submitted some relevant documents to NMCB for printing but they are yet to be issued with certificates.

Expressing frustration they added that they cant practise nursing because they are wanted at their work place. We attempted to produce receipts as evidence that we have renewed and registered to practiced but at work they refused to recognise those receipts, they said. NMCB had advised registrants to renew their practising certificates well on time to avoid last minute congestion.

All nurses and midwives registered with NMCB employed by the government, working in the private institutions or retired etc can also pay for the renewal of their practising certificates at any of the decentralized facilities, the NMCB said. It warned that was illegal to employ a Nurse or Midwife not registered with NMCB or who does not have a valid practising certificate adding that such act contravenes section 10 (1) and section 11 (3) of the Nurses and Midwives ACT. Cap 61:03.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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