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Communities enlisted to craft malaria solutions

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Acting together with communities to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic has led government to positive interventions that have earned the country accolades and saved human lives.
Using the same engagement concept, government is now interrogating new ways to fight malaria, allowing society to take the lead, under a programme dubbed Communities Acting Together to Eliminate Malaria (CATTEM).

Humana People to People Botswana, a non-governmental organisation spearheading the project to drive community competence in assessing their own situation and drive locally owned solutions in fighting malaria, is confident CATTEM will give birth to new solutions to fight the epidemic.

Segametsi Mashumba, Senior Programmes Manager at Humana said CATTEM, the bottom-up response to malaria, is being piloted in the country’s malaria hotspots in six districts – Chobe, Okavango, Ngamiland, Bobirwa , Tutume and Boteti before sustainable solutions are rolled countrywide. “So far we happy with progress and seeing people being eager to address problems they face. A lot of people are coming to discuss the issue,” said Mashumba adding that some of the villages are experiencing high malaria cases as after effects of Cyclone Dineo.

Under the six districts, CATTEM is being piloted in 12 villages – Mabele, Pandamatenga, Seronga, Sekondomboro, Sehithwa , Khwai, Motlhabaneng, Molalatau, Nata, Gweta, Mopipi and Mosu.
Though Humana acknowledges that remoteness of some of the villages picked for the project pose a challenge, Mashumba remains optimistic the concerted efforts of communities will produce results in the fight against malaria.

CATTEM is being piloted under the National Malaria Programme (NMP) financed by Global Fund Project and the Ministry of Health, whose goal is to achieve zero local malaria transmission.
The project feeds into the SADC malaria elimination programme where eight countries – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland and South Africa – are participating to eliminate malaria.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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