The Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) recently upscaled its services for the fight towards Tuberculosis (TB) elimination by opening a community based care project in Kanye.
The initiative comes days before the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating World TB day 2011 on March 24.
Botswana is rated as one of the countries that has the highest TB rates in the world. It was ranked number 6 in the world amongst countries with the highest cases of TB in the world, in 2004, and it was rated number 4 in Southern Africa, after Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia.
Seventy percent of TB patients in Botswana have HIV/AIDS, Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary for Preventative Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Shenaaz El-Halabi, has revealed.
El-Halabi said that the country has a very strong political will to eradicate TB and she revealed that, of late, a policy document that aims to guide Tuberculosis (TB) control efforts in the country has been availed.
“We are currently one of the few countries in Southern Africa to give TB treatment for free,” said El-Halabi.
However, Halabi said that one of the main obstacles to curing the disease is that it has in some cases evolved to Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB, which is hard to treat. She said that adherence to the treatment is a problem facing many TB patients who sometimes skip on their medication before completing the required 6 months treatment program.
Assistant Minister of Health Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri informed the attendants that recently the BRCS and the MoH signed a memorandum of Agreement on the implementation of community TB care in Botswana.
He said that the project’s goal was to reduce morbidity and mortality due to TB through community TB education, health promotion and promotion of IPT amongst people living with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable groups. It was agreed upon that BRCS would execute a one year project in Kanye, Moshupa, Tutume, Tonota and Kgalagadi North.
“Through the program we hope to upscale the provision of information and education on TB, prevention, treatment and adherence issues and further support for patients and their families. The approach is to have a family based volunteer supporter providing support where it is most required,” said Matlhabaphiri.
It was at this opening that Mohammed Dada decided to volunteer to pay for the tiling and the office furniture after inspecting the building with the rest of the delegates.