The World Health Organisation plays a crucial role in Botswana’s health sector. The international group opened its first office in Botswana in 1996 and has spearheaded many programmes there. Dr. Tebogo Madidimalo, Acting Head, explains, “The WHO is a UN technical agency, which helps the government develop healthcare strategies and projects as well as mobilise resources. The WHO also advises other international organisations involved in healthcare projects in Botswana.”
Among other health sector related priorities, WHO Botswana Country office currently has its focus on six priorities for its activities in Botswana, inline with government’s priorities as articulated in Country Cooperative Strategy. These are assisting the government in its fight against communicable diseases (HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, emerging diseases and diseases preventable by vaccination); assisting in the fight against non-communicable diseases, which are on the rise in Botswana as per capita income grows; helping to combat maternal and neo-natal mortality; improving healthcare logistics, supply-chain and procurement management so that Botswana can offer universal health coverage throughout the country; helping to mobilise resources and obtain financing for health initiatives; assisting the government in its drive to train and hire high-quality healthcare human resources; and helping the government prepare for epidemics and implement programmes guided by WHO International Health Regulations. “All these issues are interrelated, so all are equally important,” Dr. Tebogo Madidimalo points out.
New challenges as a middle-income country
As Botswana’s economy continues to develop, the government is shifting its health services approach, with emphasis on prevention of health problems. Dr. Tebogo Madidimalo points out, “The WHO is committed in assisting the government to ensure a healthier population, and we are really excited about the new emphasis on primary health care (PHC) approach and prevention in Botswana.” He adds, “Botswana is now a middle-income economy, not a lower-income country, and so our investments in health sector need to have added value. We need to be more efficient in allocating and utilization of our resources in offering quality services for better health outcomes. As a middle-income country, Botswana is no longer receiving the level of international aid that it formerly did and there is a need for greater private investment to help us reach our health goals.”
The WHO believes that Africa in general and Botswana in particular offer exceptional advantages for investors and healthcare enterprises. Dr. Tebogo Madidimalo explains, “The WHO would embrace partners who are committed to assisting the government achieve impactful health-developmental outcomes. Health-system strengthening is the WHO’s mission, and Botswana is dedicated to continuing to improve its health status and to making sure its people have access to the health services and support they need. As a middle-income country, Botswana still needs international investors in healthcare.”