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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 client’s 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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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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