The United States embassy last week reinforced government’s efforts to combat swine flu when it donated over P74 000 worth of personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Health (MoH) to advance the process of preventing the transmission of the H1N1 influenza in Botswana.
US ambassador to Botswana, Steven Nolan, handed over the equipment, which included protective clothing and basic medical supplies to health minister, Reverend Dr. John Seakgosing.
“As US President Barack Obama has said, all countries must strengthen readiness and resilience in their health care systems and improve national pandemic response plans. It is therefore the US government’s intention to continue to support the government of Botswana’s ability to respond to the H1N1 challenge by assisting the MoH to augment its stocks of PPE’s,” said Nolan.
It has since emerged that the threat that was posed by the then escalating swine flu pandemic has lessened considerably.
The Director of Public Health, Sheenaz El-Halabi, said at the handover ceremony that they would continue to be on high alert even though there have been no new reported cases of swine flu in Botswana.
She revealed that the last cases of swine flu were reported around three months ago.
“We have no guarantee that the pandemic won’t hit again and we don’t know when or where it might hit, so we have to continue being prepared for whatever might happen so that we are not caught unaware,” she said.
Swine flu caused panic amongst many nations early this year when it attacked various countries worldwide, killing a number of people, and eventually snaking its way into Southern Africa.
Botswana was amongst the SADC countries that caught the bug that threatened the lives of its citizens, as more and more people worldwide were hospitalized and others were dying because of the pandemic.
By September 13, 2009, World Health Organisation (WHO) regional office for Africa had registered a total of 8,125 confirmed cases of Swine Flu and 40 deaths.
Fortunately for Botswana, the country has had no swine flu related deaths unlike its neighbouring countries.
“Of late, there have been no new cases of swine flu popping up,” said Halabi.
About 33 cases of swine flu cases were identified countrywide, according to the director, the cases had been addressed and the people have now gone back to their normal lives.
At the moment they don’t have any contact with the people that were affected since they were released some time ago.
“Currently there are no hospitalizations concerning the 33 cases that we had suspected a few months ago, none of them is in danger as far as the pandemic is concerned,” said Halabi.
Halabi firmly asserted that Batswana should continue to follow the rules of precautions that have been drawn by WHO to ensure that people avoid getting infected with swine flu.
She advises that it would be in the best interest of Batswana to continue ensuring good hygiene as indicated by the countless posters that advised the public on which measures to take to ensure personal safety against the disease.
“We, as the Ministry of Health wouldn’t advise anyone to let up on the precautions; its important that we keep being careful because these things are very unpredictable,” said Halabi.