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Botswana Child Monitor: A Bulletin of Recent Events, Statistics and Acquisitions About Children


January to February 2006

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  1. A diarrhoea epidemic broke out around the country affecting young children under the age of five years, since January 2006. By the 9th epidemiological week, 18,180 cases had been reported to health facilities, out of which there were a total of 346 child deaths. The source of the infection has not been conclusively identified, although laboratory tests of stools of affected children conducted in Botswana, the Republic of South Africa and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States have pointed to cryptosporidium and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC). Linked to these causes, cases of malnutrition have also been reported because of prolonged diarrhoea. Under the coordination of the Ministry of Health, WHO, CDC, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders (France) and other development partners have joined together to provide an accelerated response to the outbreak. The Ministry has instituted four committees, all chaired by the Ministry. There is an overall Stakeholders Steering Committee, which is currently meeting on a weekly basis. In turn, the Steering Committee is supported by three sub-committees on: Disease Surveillance, Treatment, and Social Mobilisation. UNICEF is an active participant in both the Steering Committee and the Social Mobilization Committee.

  2. On 16 January 2006, HE President Festus Mogae met with the Chairman of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, Mr Ira Magaziner in Gaborone. During their discussions, Mr. Magaziner said the Foundation was eager to build on past contacts between President Mogae and former President Clinton in supporting Botswana's ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic in such areas as training and access to affordable drugs. This collaboration is envisaged to have benefits for children in the area of pediatric treatment.

  3. The Minister of Health Prof. Sheila D. Tlou presented a paper entitled “The Role of Men and HIV/AIDS” to a gender event panel discussion in New York. The discussion was organised by the UNDP on 26 January 2006. The Minister pointed out that the involvement of men is very critical to the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as the socio-dynamic aspects of its transmission.

  4. On 6 February 2006, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Baledzi Gaolathe presented to Parliament the national budget speech for 2006/2007 (Appropriation Bill). The speech noted several initiatives and developments that directly benefit children:

    • Construction of primary schools and primary health care facilities during the period.
    • Under-5 malnutrition has been brought down to nearly 6 percent.
    • HIV prevalence among pregnant women aged 15-49 years has decreased from 34.7% to 33.4% according to the 2005 Sentinel Surveillance Study.
    • HIV prevalence among 15-19 year olds has decreased from 22.8% in 2003 to 17.8% in 2005.
    • The total number of patients enrolled for ARV treatment in 2005 was 54,378.
    • 73% of pregnant HIV positive women were receiving PMTCT.
    • 16,284 people underwent routine HIV testing in 2005 bringing the cumulative figure to 174,792.
    • Review of the National Youth Policy is ongoing and it will more effectively strengthen the development of youth against the challenges of HIV/AIDS, unemployment and poverty.
    • Review of the Education Act to improve access to education services by children and youth with special needs.

  5. A Mid Term Review of the UNICEF/Government of Botswana Programme of Cooperation was held on 7 February 2006 at the Gaborone International Convention Centre. The meeting was attended by ministers, senior government officials and the UNICEF Regional Deputy Director and a team of six advisors from the UNICEF Regional Office in Nairobi Kenya. During the meeting, three children, representing others from all over the country, presented the Minister of Local Government Dr Margaret Nasha with a statement outlining issues that they wanted government and stakeholders to address. This statement is reproduced on pages 8 of this Child Monitor.

  6. On 11 February, 2006, Brazilian President HE Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid a one day state visit to Botswana. During the visit, President Lula da Silva and Botswana’s President Festus Mogae signed two bilateral agreements – one to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana and the other to create opportunities for young people through cooperation in sports.

  7. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) held a regional training workshop on DevInfo, which is the UN’s corporate software to assist countries monitor the Millennium Development Goals. Participants came from 10 SADC countries, representing a combination of statistical offices/institutes, Ministries of Planning and UN agencies. A workplan was developed to ensure improved implementation and use of DevInfo at national level. Through DevInfo, countries will be able to monitor more effectively indicators related to children and women.

  8. On 17 January 2006, the Parliamentarians for Women’s Health Project held a consultation in Gaborone to discuss the concept behind the project and how it will be undertaken in Botswana. The project is an initiative supported by the following organisations: International Centre for Research on Women, the Centre for the Study of AIDS/University of Pretoria, the Ethical Globalization Initiative, European Parliamentarians for Africa, and the International Centre on Women. The project seeks to assist parliamentarians in select countries in East and Southern Africa to more effectively improve women’s and girls’ access to health services, particularly those related to HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.

  9. The Department of Culture and Youth on 15 – 18 February 2006 organised a national youth rally held at Ditshupo Hall in Gaborone. The theme of the rally was ‘Unearthing and Nurturing Youth Talent towards Sustainable Development by 2016.” The objectives of the youth rally were to create a platform where young people would meet to showcase their talent and creativity, unearth talent and bring out leadership skills among young people as well as to offer young people an opportunity to interact on cultural issues thereby advancing cultural diversity and tolerance.

  10. The UNICEF Representative, Mr Gordon Jonathan Lewis, and the UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Kwame Ampomah, met with H.E President Festus Mogae on 17 February 2006, to brief the President on the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Global Campaign. The President indicated his interest to launch the Campaign in the next two months. The Campaign seeks to put children at the centre of efforts to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic.

  11. On 28 February 2006, the Minister of Health, Prof. Sheila D. Tlou launched the Regulations on the Marketing of Foods for Infants and Young Children (2005) in Gaborone. The regulations are based on the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes of 1981. The code aims to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate health and nutrition for infants and young children by protecting and promoting breast feeding.

  12. A PEPFAR Core Team (composed of different agencies and offices in the United States Government associated with the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) visited Botswana between late February and early March. The purpose of their visit was to obtain a direct exposure to PEPFAR-supported projects and assess implementation. During its visit, the team was able to discuss projects related to orphans and vulnerable children and PMTCT.

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