A Zimbabwean multiple drug resistant TB patient, who last week forced government to move him from the Gaborone Prisons Clinic to Princess Marina Hospital and put him on medication, is refusing to take the free government medication.
Mthandazo Sibanda is the protagonist in a landmark case in which he is challenging deportation from Botswana. Last week, he won the first round in an out of court settlement with government where it was agreed that he would be transferred to Princess Marina Hospital where he would be put on medication.
Sibanda was declared a prohibited immigrant because he has multiple drug resistant TB and was not taking his medication, sparking fears that he was posing a public health hazard to citizens.
Sources close to the case told Sunday Standard that Sibanda refused to take TB medication after he was moved to Princess Marina Hospital, pending the outcome of his case.
Sibanda, who is challenging his deportation, has asked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health to show cause why he should not be removed from isolation in the Gaborone Prison, relocated to Marina Hospital and be given MDR TB drugs.
BONELA Communications officer, Dorcas Kamwaba, confirmed that they had received reports that Sibanda was refusing to take his medication. BONELA is representing Sibanda in his court case.
“We will investigate the reports and come back to you,” Kamwamba told Sunday Standard.
Immigrants are excluded from the government’s free public health system and the rules cannot be bent, even when they are suffering from tuberculosis, the highly infectious disease for which medication, along with housing, food and clean clothes, can mean the difference between life and death. There are fears that this may be forcing most infected illegal immigrants underground where their TB is festering into Multiple Drug Resistant TB which would be spread to citizens.