Speaking yesterday at the signing of an agreement between the European Union (EU) and Botswana on EU support for health-related MDGs, Seakgosing said there is still a lot that needs to be done. "Currently 84 percent of Batswana are living within a five-kilometre radius of the nearest health facility and over 90 percent of pregnant women attend antenatal clinics, by 2008, 98.3 percent of deliveries were being handled by skilled birth attendants whilst postnatal care attendance is above 85 percent," said Seakgosing. He added that two additional strategies, the Accelerated Child Survival and Development Strategy (ACSD) and The National Road-map for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and New Born Morbidity and Mortality in Botswana, have been launched to guide efforts towards achieving marked reduction in childhood and maternal mortality. He said with current poor indicators on maternal and under-five mortality, it is clear that the time has come for Botswana to review its health delivery models and identify areas requiring a change in approach to address the bottlenecks hampering the desired improvement in childhood and maternal mortality indicators.
Seakgosing disclosed that the main causes of deaths and threats to the survival of the underfive child in Botswana are Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) and Diarrhoea and that an important milestone for addressing these two has been the introduction of the pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines. The minister said the economic downturn has exacerbated the impact of poverty on child survival, thereby predisposing children to diseases of poverty - malnutrition, poor sanitation and exposure to adverse environmental conditions. He informed the EU delegation that efforts are ongoing to improve the quality of care given to pregnant mothers at the time of delivery through the Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care training. In addition, his misitry will soon introduce a Quality Improvement Initiative to reduce maternal mortality. Seakgosing said the global economic and financial crisis has had a major negative impact on the economy and on public finances, affecting the capacity of MoH to implement Msome interventions designed to help reduce maternal and child mortality timeously. Nevertheless, Seakgosing reiterated that it is time to move from concept to action, stating that he is grateful that an important component of this EU initiative is the strengthening of family and community-oriented health service delivery addressing morbidity and mortality issues. He stressed the need for community health workers to be trained and deployed to perform functions that in the past helped Botswana record impressive health indicators.
Seakgosing also appraised the role they will provide to support the interventions and monitor health events in a manner that is culturally sensitive and therefore acceptable. Among the interventions in the agreement package are use of insecticide treated nets,breastfeeding, complementary feeding, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) neonatal temperature control and cord care. Also attending the ceremony were the acting permanent and deputy permanent secretaries at MoH Ontlametse Mokopakgosi and Shenaaz El-Halabi (Primary Health Services) respectively, senior government officials and EU officials.