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Gov’t to pay for funeral costs of 7 dead students

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Government has pledged to release an undisclosed amount to cover the funeral expenses of seven Matsha College students who died on Friday in a road accident, Parliament heard Tuesday.

The Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale also promised that government would provide psychosocial support to all the affected families. Some 121 students were involved in the accident while being transported to their different villages after completing their Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) final examinations.

The driver and his assistant are currently admitted at Scottish Livingstone in Molepolole. Molale said parents whose children are admitted at the hospitals will continue to be assisted with transport to visit their children. “In addition, some parents whose children are admitted have been provided with accommodation more especially in Gaborone,” he said.

But MPs for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse and Gaborone Central Dr. Phenyo Butale demanded to know why students were transported in a trucks when there is a policy that abolished their use to which Molale said would be answered after the ongoing investigations. “The policy of Government is to transport students in buses. This investigation will include why a truck was used in this instance. The investigation will therefore leave no stone unturned,” he said Molale would neither confirm or deny allegations that the cause of the accident was a tyre burst.

He said the police investigations would shed light on this as well. At the weekend press conference Minister of Education Skills and Development, Unity Dow, revealed that the children’s ages range between 15 and 22 and that, some of them were enrolled with Botswana College of Distance Learning (BOCODOL). She confirmed that it was a policy that students are not supposed to be transported by trucks, but noted that in some instances the terrains determine the mode of transport to be used.

Her counterpart, Minister of Health, Dorcas Malesu said that in conjunction with the Botswana Defence Force, Boitekanelo College and MedRescue International, they were able to get at least 15 ambulances to the accident scene. But in Parliament after Molale’s address, Molepolole legislator Mohammed Khan said ambulances arrived late at the accident. “The helicopter arrived at 6 pm yet the accident occurred at 2pm. We could have saved lives if they arrived well in time,” he said.

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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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JUST PROPAGANDA

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Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.

It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.

According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.

Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.

“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.

Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.

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