Can you explain what homeopathy is? Homeopathy is an alternative medical system just like conventional medical system (Allopathy) where you can treat any disease conditions like Allopathy does, from common cold to cancers.
Apart from the conventional medical system, homeopathy and homeopathic medicines do not have any side effects on its consumption and it is safe to take, which makes homeopathy a first option medical system all over the world nowadays. As per WHO, millions of people are using homeopathy around the world and its rate is increasing day by day and it is the second most medical system used after allopathy. How are homeopathic doctors different from conventional medical doctors? Homeopathy does not consider patient in parts, where you need a cardiologist if the heart is affected, for lungs, pumonologist, for kidneys, nephrologist and so on.
Homeopathy is based in “holistic concept” whereby the patient is considered as a whole and it is not to be treated in parts. As per homeopathic concept, all the parts of the body are interrelated and hence, along with treating the disease conditions, the patient should be equally considered and treated. Each and every person is different even though they are having similar disease conditions. Each person has to be evaluated individually and medicines should be selected based on patient’s individuality.
For example, if two people with fever come, one will be feeling chill, another will be feeling hot, another person will be sweating, one will be feeling thirsty, other one will not be feeling thirst at all, you must have experienced all these different symptoms during fever In conventional medicine, all fever is treated with paracetamol whereas homeopathy considers this as different individualistic expressions of disease and each case should be individually treated with different medicines. So, homeopathy carries more than 200 medicines only for fever.
What type of education did you have to pursue to become a homeopath doctor? And why did you decide to become one?
Just like conventional medicine (allopathy) homeopathy is also pursued as a medical degree all over the world and you need to go to a homeopathic medical college to learn homeopathy. Most of the countries, homeopathic medical colleges are attached with homeopathic hospitals and they offer graduation after a period of study of up to four and a half years, followed by one year of internship program in homeopathic dispensaries or homeopathic hospitals for clinical exposure in treating patients.
Can you give us some examples of illnesses that you have effectively treated with homeopathy?
Since homeopathy is a complete medical system, any disease from common cold to cancer can be treated with homeopathy. Homeopathy has got a very good success rate in curative aspect of chronic conditions that are believed to require taking lifelong medicines. Lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol etc. can be treated with homeopathic medicines and they can live without medicines afterwards in very good number of cases. Homeopathic medicines also treat many surgical conditions where surgery is considered as last option, as well as recurrent attacks of cold, flu, sinusitis, migraine.
What is a typical week of work like for you?
The usual days of practice are from Monday to Saturday except Wednesdays. Since the way of case taking is different from conventional medicine and it takes long time compared to conventional medicine to consult with patients. We are not taking more than 10 cases a day so that we could give the best homeopathic care for each patient who comes for our consultation of homeopathy.
Can you describe a basic patient consultation?
Since homeopathy is an individualistic holistic medicine, the homeopath will ask about your mental, physical and emotional symptoms, your functional activities along with the disease condition and it will take 30 minutes to one hour for an average consultation. When you are going to a homeopath, always make sure that you are not in a hurry and take all the past reports and records of your tests, labs, and treatments that will help to assess you precisely and provide you with more precise homeopathic medicines.
Do you collaborate with other practitioners? How important is such collaboration to your work?
Yes, we do. Medical field is an area that requires a collaborative effort. There are cases where Allopathy cannot treat successfully and likewise homeopathy too. So, it’s very important to refer cases between different medical systems and in Botswana, a lot of cases are being referred to homeopathy from conventional doctors as they feel they cannot manage and vice versa.
What are the major challenges that the alternative healthcare field face?
There are not many options for the people to choose alternative medicine, and it is in the initial stage. And a country like Botswana, where our major threat is HIV, there is a lot of scope for homeopathy and other alternative medical systems where conventional medical system is perplexed. Countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana are using homeopathy as an option for HIV cases in their countries.
There are separate ministries under government for alternative medicines in different countries, separate legislation and departments control alternative medicines. Here in Botswana, it’s different and if government can promote alternative medical systems, it can do a lot in a country like Botswana and for Batswana. Maybe in future, when more and more people have benefitted from homeopathy and other alternative medicine systems, it can go to such a stage.
What are some of your professional goals for the future?
Right now, we are located in Riverwalk, Health Alternatives and currently we are not able to manage the patients from such a small premises. Since more and more people are seeking safe and gentle medical methods that can help them without side effects, we are looking forward to moving to a bigger premise. To reach more people, we are planning for free medical camps and services too. From my six years experience in Botswana I feel homeopathy can do well for the incurable and lifestyle diseases.
Batswana’s sorry lives
For scores of Batswana, life is a mundane routine of trying to make ends meet. An economist once indicated that many Batswana are a meal away from poverty.
In fact the 2016/17 report of Botswana Statistics indicates that most Batswana in urban areas live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, unemployment among youth stands at 23%. The report also indicates that a great number of Batswana earn on average of P4000 while a lot more still live in one-room dwellings. The gap between the poor and the rich is ever widening and incomes are not enough to cover the high cost of living while prospects are few and wide apart.
Thabiso Makatse came to Gaborone in search of greener pastures but has been disappointed. “After two years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs, I decided to move to Gabs from my home village. I did odd jobs – from store cashier to petrol attendant. I also dabbled in entrepreneurship, selling car parts and clothes.”
Faced with taking care of his younger siblings, parents and child, he had to try everything to make ends meet and he is still riding that boat. Makatse says that the stress of being anxious about an income and being unemployed with nothing stable in the horizon had a negative effect on him. “In the world we live in, you only make sense when you have money. Even in relationships it is difficult because women don’t like broke men who cannot take them out or give them money. It can be stressful when a woman expects money for nails, hair or clothes while you are worried about where your next meal will come from.”
Depression brought on by socio-economic stress is widespread in the country. A source at the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital in Lobatse says that in the past decade, the hospital has registered a higher number of patients, most of who come with stresses related to money, work and other issues affecting their socio-economic status. “Issues such as retrenchment, debt and bad financial decisions in business can land one on their back. We see more people struggling to keep in the socio-economic landscape, and it affects their psychological well-being and brings on mental illness brought on by compounded stress.”
Psychologist Thelma Tlhaselo-Majela concedes that unemployment or inability to generate an income can have a negative effect on individuals. “The most significant is the realisation that one may have all it takes to find a job including wishes and desires to do so nonetheless are unable to work because of circumstances beyond their control. In some instances, the situation may push one to opt for jobs that are far below one’s qualifications thus compromising potential and inner capacity simply because they want to be engaged.
When one realises that they cannot get meaningfully engaged, this may provoke residual effects because employment has some invaluable benefits in balancing the equilibrium for quality life.” She further says that it is crucial to recognise that gainful and fulfilling employment contributes to shaping the foundational state of the socio-psychological and economic well-being at individual, familial and national level.
“It is in our work, job or occupation that we willingly spend long hours of our time and this grounds structural patterns for daily routine hence people deriving corresponding fulfilment for purpose and existence. The disruption of this patterned routine has potential to throw one in a state of chaos and disorientation especially if one is not well-prepared to adjust and handle the situation well.”
Majela explains that when these stressors set on, no matter the existing savings, the financial resources are bound to witness a gradual decline and depletion. The struggle begins in meeting basic needs while lifestyle orientation demands corresponding alterations. The key indicator in the family lifestyle change often impacts on children because some may not fully comprehend what is going on. Lifestyle reorientation may demand moving from large to smaller houses, private to public schools, smaller cost effective cars, humble meals and clothing and these new dynamics may shake the familial structure into diverse difficulties and conflicts.”
Majela explains that our occupations and work spaces constitute the inseparable nature of our psychological identities due to the intra-inter-personal development that happens especially if one loves and enjoys what they do.
“The psychological identity connects with the socialisation processes where we received messages, positive or negative, early in life from people around us. In our daily social activities, the purpose and meaning of life is then shaped by and through the communication we internalise through our social space.” She further points out that being ‘judged’ can worsen the situation in people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“Anyone who receives verbal and non-verbal communication that undermines their inner worth contributes to the onset of anxiety and depression. The psychological state of rejection, discouragement, coupled with deterioration in hope, pride and self-esteem impacts on mental well-being.” Majela points out that a deep sense of depression expressed through hopelessness and helplessness can throw one into psychological damage expressed through self-harming behavioural patterns such as self-cutting, hair pulling, addiction to alcohol and drugs, sexual and eating disorders to mention just a few. “The loss of employment on the other hand provokes psychological pain leading to grief and bereavement, which can be just as real and actual as loss of death of a loved one.”
She adds that it is not uncommon for people to begin to experience mental health issues because often their thought patterns may become irrational and distorted and may dig into suicidal ideation.
Majela suggests several ways that people with depression related to their socio-economic situation can be assisted that include acceptance of situation. “When people are thrown into chaotic states of life, they unconsciously engage psychological defence mechanisms which often work on short term basis and can be detrimental when applied on long term basis.
These defence mechanisms include denial, repression, reaction formation and intellectualization. The quick psychological acceptance helps to propel one to shift into being open to seeking, receiving and committing to the necessary and available intervention support.” She also recommends seeking counselling and psycho-social support. Majela also suggests transformational thinking with cognitive reordering.
“Any new life orientation bringing change in our lives tends to provoke discomfort and often people are tempted to resist the change. It is necessary for people to challenge their thinking patterns by redirecting, refocusing and re-establishing new ways of processing information. Transformational thinking influences us in relooking at situations sometimes with the ability to let go and forgive which requires a new mindset in looking at situations of life,” she said. She also recommends regular physical exercise, journaling, and spiritual connection.
Majela notes that a stress free life may not be a reality hence it is necessary to have a proactive, systemic and holistic approach to managing socio-economic landscape and its associated challenges to reduce the bumpy impact of life stressors.
BDP elections in doubt
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is a party in disarray at the moment, and uncertainty reigns over what the future really holds at Tsholetsa as the 2019 general election looms large.
Tensions abound within the party, with glaring factionalism taking centre stage and prompting a call by some, for the party’s elective congress to proceed without election of a new Central Committee. The BDP’s Secretary General Mpho Balopi has since revealed that party members will use the impending National Council to deliberate whether to hold an elective congress or not.
As per its constitution, the party holds an elective congress every two years. Already, some democrats have shown interest to challenge the current Central Committee members for office.
Even though the party has not given the green light for campaigns, democrats vying for office have started speaking to fellow party members to lobby for votes. The divided party’s break or make elective congress is expected in the month of July at a venue and date yet to be decided.
There have been calls by some democrats for the party not to hold an elective congress, even at their other structures. This year the party is expected to have a Youth Wing elective congress, Women Wing elective congress and a National Elective Congress. This publication has established that there is a lobby for a compromise, but chances of the compromise deal succeeding are very slim, inside sources say.
This is because despite Balopi’s assertions that the party emerged united from the Palapye retreat, there is a strained relationship between the current leadership and some members of the party including ministers, Members of Parliament and Councillors.
Those who believe the current central committee has failed the party are pushing for the elective congress while those sympathetic to the leadership want a compromise. Their contention is that since it is election year, they have to focus on general elections to win with large numbers instead of being distracted by inner party elections.
However the opposing side has stood by the party constitution and wants it to be followed to the letter and respected above all else. In the past, compromise deals were made and elections were avoided at the request of then President Ian Khama.
Balopi told members of the media in Palapye after the party’s retreat that the National Council which traditionally is held in March, would deliberate on the question of the elective congress. “We have tradition as BDP that during election year we avoid elections internally and focus on general elections.
The issue of the youth wing, women wing and national congress will be discussed during our national council,” he said. Balopi stated that the democrats who attended the in-house meeting were on the same page that the matter should be taken seriously because of the impact it could have on the performance of the party in the general elections.
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