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Little Jonas in heart pain



For a four year old, life has to be fun with too much running around. Unfortunately it is not the case with Jonas Ramojela. He has Acyanotic Complex Cardiac Lesion as well as Ascites, which cause swelling of his stomach.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun from their family home in Old Naledi, his mother Keakabetse Ramojela says that it started last year, August 27, when little Jonas’ right side of the stomach felt like there was a stone inside. And he was grumpy. She took him to Princess Marina Hospital where she was told he has heart problem.

“They told me that that he had only one heart muscle and that the other one wasn’t functioning well. And they told me there is no cure for it, save for being given medication to suppress the pain,” she says. They were admitted for a month. Upon being discharged, the child’s tummy started swelling. They would later return to the hospital where the swelling eventually subsided. Jonas’ discharge summary states that he was diagnosed with Acyanotic Complex Cardiac Lesion and Ascites.

It says that the cause is ascitic tap and that the boy had some persistent linkage and reaction to an antiseptic agent. Another report done by the Paediatric Cardiology states that Jonas has Acyanotic Complex Congenital heart disease.

According to the mother, between January and March, “several x-rays were done but doctors say there is no cure for the condition.” Ramojela told The Midweek Sun that the condition keeps resurfacing with her son’s tummy swelling. Every week she takes the boy to Princess Marina Hospital where the urine (ascitic fluid) gets drained to reduce the swelling of the tummy. “At Princess Marina, they told me it’s the first time they are dealing with my son’s condition,” says the mother of three. She is currently on unpaid leave to look after her son. Clearly in pain, Jonas has lost weight. As he tries to force a smile, his big tummy is clearly causing him irritation and discomfort.

Though it still feels hard to touch, his mother says it has become better. “Doctors tell me they are afraid to operate him because they do not know where to cut,” she says. Nevertheless, all hope is not lost for her son as they are conducting MRI scan this week, with a urologist from a private clinic. According to one local doctor, the child is in extreme right heart failure secondary to absent pulmonary artery and severe narrowing of the right one – with less blood flowing to the lungs, and the valve on the right side of the heart leaking, adding to reduced blood flow to the lungs. He says that Jonas needs a surgery on the valve. “The water is due to the blood not returning to the heart, so it backs up and the water in blood seeps out of the blood vessels and accumulates in the abdomen and legs,” he says, recommending that government should take Jonas to South Africa where a successful surgery can be done.

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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



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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