Botswana: Development of National Health Rehabilitation Policy Underway

Gaborone — Work is at an advanced stage for the development of a national health rehabilitation policy.

Speaking in Parliament November 18 President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said the policy would pave way for the establishment of a specialised rehabilitation centre which would fully address the needs of people with complex neurological conditions and traumas.

The centre would need specialised rehabilitation personnel and equipment to produce the desired results, he said.

President Masisi said the number of people requiring care as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol and other substances had increased over the years and was a major source of concern to government.

Government had therefore identified the old Serowe Institute of Health Sciences as a facility to serve as the first National Substance Use Treatment Centre, he said.

Dr Masisi disclosed that designs for the centre were complete and that refurbishment work, planned to be completed in 22 months, would start soon.

He said both in and outpatient services would be provided for and that the facility would improve access to emergency and trauma care services in order to reduce mortality and morbidity related to non-communicable diseases.

On availability of drugs, the President said national drug availability had been a challenge in the health system with worrying trends of sporadic and widespread shortages across the country.

However, Dr Masisi said as at the end of September, there was a notable improvement with availability averaging 80 per cent at health facilities across the country.

He attributed the improvement to local micro-procurement at facilities while awaiting deliveries from Central Medical Stores (CMS).

To further improve on drug supplies at CMS, Dr Masisi said government was working on implementing other strategic interventions such as purchasing medicines through SADC Pooled Procurement Protocol and international pooled procurement agencies or key partners such as the World Health Organisation.

Still on health issues, Dr Masisi explained that in 2018 government expanded the mandate of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) to encompass Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs).

NACA's successor, National AIDS Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA), has commenced implementing both the third National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS and the National NCDs Strategy, jointly launched in June 2019.

Dr Masisi said the two strategies would serve as roadmaps for the country's response to epidemics for the next five years.

He said Botswana was on track to achieving the United Nations 90-90-90 fast track targets adding that the current programme data showed that 86 per cent of people living with HIV had tested and knew their status.

He said 83 per cent of those knowing their status were on treatment and 96 per cent were virally suppressed.

Botswana was a high burden country with 370 000 people estimated to be living with HIV and an adult prevalence rate of more than 20 per cent, adding that UNAIDS estimated that in 2018 HIV infections stood at 8 500.

On maternal mortality, Dr Masisi said government intended resuscitating intensive maternal health care strategies including the appointment of a national coordinator for maternal mortality reduction and the engagement of relevant stakeholders to come up with holistic solutions.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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