Sunday, May 28, 2023

Alcohol levy supported organisation on verge of collapsing

One of the organisations born as result of President Ian Khama’s quest to combat drugs and alcohol abuse is at the verge of closing down, fuelling speculation that the plot to combat alcohol abuse is lost as government departs from using the Alcohol levy to help drugs and alcohol addicts.

Sunday Standard is privy to information that scores of drug and substance addicts from Princess Marina, Sybrana Psychiatric Hospital and other health facilities who were referred for clinical treatment at Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) were left in limbo as the NGO that offers clinical treatment is rumoured to be folding up.

BOSASNet, which is the only organisation that offers alcohol and drug addicts some clinical treatment, confirmed this week that they might not be able to accommodate patients from government hospitals and other organisations due to financial constraints.

The Ministry of Health maintains that their budget is only meant for advertorials and campaigns on alcohol abuse.

They are fears that the patients who are referred for clinical treatment in the future will not be helped as the government continues to divert the Alcohol levy for other purposes, leaving behind the problems that came as a result of alcohol and drug abuse.

BOSASNet, which received a grant for support from government to the tune of P3,2 million two years ago, could collapse as the government is reluctant to fund the NGO.

The NGO has since approached other donors but they were unsuccessful.

BOSASNet’s Clinical Programme Manager, Kegomoditse Manyanda, revealed in an interview that they might close an outpatient counselling rehabilitation centre that help many addicts who are taken there for referrals by government hospitals and other organisations.

He cited lack of finance as a major contribution that will hamper their service delivery, whose demand is growing.

She indicated that, currently, they were offering counselling though the government hospitals and other organisations were referring patients for clinical treatment.

Manyanda further noted that the government, through the Ministry of Health, which signed a contract offer of P3,2 Million grant towards the organisations, was reluctant to stay on board.
She said from the P3,2 Million grant offered, they had exhausted P2,6 million, stating that the rehabilitation centre might not offer the clinical treatment due to lack of funds to drive the programmes.

Manyanda stated that the clinical treatment will not open if they are unable to source funds from donors. She said closing business will mean outpatient counselling centres might close down the services that they provide.

She further noted that they are confident that BOSASNet would operate beyond 30th November 2012.
She indicated that since its inception, BOSASNet has helped over 200 people who were affected by or suffering from substance abuse and dependency.

Manyanda also noted that the substances that their clients have presented include Alcohol, Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Crystal Meth, Heroin, Mandrax, Nicotine, and Ecstasy, Painkillers, Marijuana and Sleeping pills.

However, the Assistant Minister of Finance, Gaothaetse Mathabaphiri, stated in an interview that they were unable to fund the organisation after the government took a decision to give them 5 percent of money accrued from the alcohol levy.

Mathabaphiri said that if the organisation was unable to offer clinical treatment, it should seek help from government hospitals. He added that that they had an integrated approach where clinical treatments are done in government hospitals.

“We are aware that the numbers of alcohol and drug addicts have gone down. We have a report that indicates that people no longer drink alcohol as before and this has also reduced the revenue that came from the levy,” said Mathabaphiri.

The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule, indicated when delivering the PAC report this week that the committee is of the view that the fund was used for the purposes for which it was not intended for. He stated that the committee has recommended that the grants of the fund should account and indicate how they use the grants disbursed to them.

The PAC also indicated that, as a result of the absence of the requirement to account, the beneficiaries were utilising the grants in a diversity of ways, some of which completely out of line with the objectives of the funds. The committee was informed that the funds were used to sponsor constituency leagues and some of the youth were using the money to buy alcohol.

The committee was further informed that President Khama had stated that the government was not in a position to control the youth on how they use the funds despite being informed that the youth were using it to buy alcohol.


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