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Disability Office introduces new data system

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Lack of updated statistics on people with disabilities in Botswana has been one of the biggest challenges of the Disability Office in the Office of the President.

According to the Coordinator of the National Disability Policy and Mainstreaming Strategy Thomas Motingwa, the office now aims to have a sophisticated disability database and system that will not only be able to show the number of people with disabilities in different parts of the country, but also who they are, and the level and nature of their disabilities. The system according to Motingwa will be launched in the-not-so distant future in all districts of Botswana, funds permitting.

Motingwa said they have employed several instruments that help them to get statistics across the country. “We use what is at our disposal to get statistics across the country, for example through social workers in districts and the kgotla system in different areas,” he said. Currently, the office relies on a simple data management system. Meanwhile, the World Report on Disability estimates that there are 59 103 people with disabilities in Botswana, representing a 2.9 percent of the population.

Among current activities of the Disability Office is to include people with disabilities in programmes and development plans and ensure their participation in policies and laws that particularly affect them, and ensure that all impairments are catered for in these instruments. One other challenge is that employment does not come easy for people with disabilities, even for the qualified. So far, more than 90 people with disabilities are said to be employed by government though affirmative action, and others by the private sector.

One such beneficiary is Kefilwe Msiwurimwa, a married woman with two children. She first encountered the Disability Office in 2010, and it became instrumental in her enrolling for the internship programme in the department of immigration. In 2013, Msiwurimwa was offered permanent employment in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, and is currently employed as a Programmer in IT in the Ministry of Basic Education.

Msiwurimwa who is married to a visually impaired man lauds efforts of the Disability Office for also helping her to secure a residential plot. “The Disability Office transformed my life. My family now lives in a decent house and lives well,” Msiwurimwa said. The Disability Office, which is mandated to develop, coordinate the implementation of all policies, programmes and strategies aimed at empowering people with disabilities, as well as to monitor and evaluate them is also faced with challenges of housing, transport and training.

The Office has however, through affirmative action been able to facilitate tertiary education opportunities for students with disabilities who obtained lower points than the recommended 36 points. “Through affirmative action we have been able to augment affected students’ points by five points for them to qualify for sponsorship,” Motingwa said. He said that upon completion of their studies, students with disabilities are assisted to find employment without having to queue with their peers.

The office also through affirmative action ensures that people with disabilities don’t queue for land allocation, either residential or farm land. “We provide a covering letter to the concerned land authority for applicants with disabilities to be assisted quickly.”The office is also instrumental in ensuring that people with disabilities have access to medication, and medical equipment including wheel chairs and hearing aides and other assisting devices. Motingwa hopes that accessibility to infrastructure and buildings in schools and public areas will be made easier after amendments in the Building Control Code.

The Disability Office is pleased that disability is increasingly being viewed as a human rights issue, rather than health and welfare like in the past.
“People with disabilities are no longer an object of charity,” Motingwa said, adding that they are working hard to ensure that all barriers to their progress are removed.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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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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