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Saturday, 02 December 2023

Unpacking HIV status quo in Kgalagadi North


Progress in prevention and treatment of Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) is said to be faltering around the world, putting millions of people in grave danger. This was said by UNAIDS in its report released in July this year.

UNAIDS says Eastern Europe and central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa have all seen increase in annual HIV infections over several years. In Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS data now show new HIV infections are rising where they had been falling.

According to UNAIDS, action to tackle the inequalities driving Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is urgently required to prevent millions of new HIV infections this decade and to end the AIDS pandemic. Globally, the number of new infections dropped by only 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual decline in new HIV infections since 2016.

Bringing the HIV situation closer to home, particularly to Kgalagadi North, the status quo is not that disheartening. The region is one of the few with quite relatively low HIV prevalence in Botswana, but obviously with eyebrow raising if not disturbing incidences here and there.

District AIDS Coordinator for Kgalagadi North, Keodiretse Seretse told WeekendPost this week that there are two thousand, six hundred and ninety one (2691) patients who have enrolled for Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in a population of twenty three thousand, five hundred and ten (23,510).

Kgalagadi North is made out of nine and five settlements and villages respectively. These villages are Hukuntsi, Kang, Lehututu, Lokgwabe and Tshane, while settlements are Inalegolo, Phuduhudu, Maake, Monong, Hunhukwe, Ncaang, Zhutshwa, Ngwatle and Ukhwi.

From the number above (2691) sixteen (16) children under 12 years were born with HIV but they are currently living normal lives due to the ARV treatment. In this number, 8.2% of the patients are male while 8.1% are females, said Seretse.

She further indicated that Kang has the highest HIV prevalence rate because of the Trans-Kalahari Highway as we begin to see some emerging issues such as sex work. The village also has high rate of teenage pregnancy.

When quizzed on which age group is mostly infected with HIV, Seretse told this publication that people aged between 35 and 39 are the most affected, followed by the age range 40-44. She added that the main cause of HIV in Kgalagadi North is mostly unprotected sex as the desert region continues to see drastic spike in sexually transmitted infections.

In the past three months, the region has recorded thirteen new HIV infections, of which eight were females and five were males from a total of seven hundred and nineteen (719) which was tested for the highly contagious incurable disease.

Besides all these disturbing figures, we have Antiretroviral therapy (ART) program that is progressing exceptionally well. ART is a treatment for HIV/AIDS that can prolong and improve patients lives, and potentially reduce the risk that they will infect others.

Viral suppression rate is at 99.2% and program uptake is at 99%. Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) program is also doing well as uptake has hit the 100% mark, Seretse told this publication.

She however, expressed concern saying they are experiencing ARV medication defaults. This is happening especially at the settlements. Those who work at the farms sometimes default as they move from one farm to another frequently. At times they do not notify the health care workers.

As it stands, there are twenty one (21) HIV patients who have defaulted from the ARV treatment and are still being followed to continue their medication.

Meanwhile, reports say there were 38.4 million people globally living with HIV in 2021. According to these reports, 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2021, while 650 thousand people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the same year.

Further, 28.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy last year. Over 80 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic, while 40 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

Of the 38.4 million people living with HIV in 2021, 36.7 million are adults (15 years and older), 1.7 million children (0 to 14 years) and 54% of all people living with HIV were women and girls. According to the reports, 5.9 million people living with HIV did not know they had the virus, while 85% knew about their HIV status.

At the end of December 2021, 28.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, up from 7.8 million people in 2010. New infections have been reduced by 54% since the peak in 1996. Since 2010, new infections have declined by 32% from 2.2 million to 1.5 million in 2021.

In 2021, key populations (sex workers and their clients gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and transgender people) and their sexual partners accounted for 70% of HIV infections globally.

It has been reported that 94% of new infections were outside of sub-Saharan Africa while only 51% were from the region under review. Every week, around 4900 young women aged between 15 and 24 years become infected with HIV.

In sub-Saharan Africa, six in seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years are girls. Girls and young women aged between 15 and 24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV than young men.

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19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.








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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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