The Monitor :: Ex-Miners’ Right To Health Bid Fail
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Last Updated
Friday 20 September 2019, 16:30 pm.
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Ex-Miners’ Right To Health Bid Fail

Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BOLAMA) has without much success made all efforts to engage and collaborate with the government of Botswana on miners’ right to health, specifically those suffering from TB and other occupational diseases, says BOLAMA coordinator Kitso Phiri.
By Nnasaretha Kgamanyane Mon 27 May 2019, 13:14 pm (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: Ex-Miners’ Right To Health Bid Fail








Phiri said these efforts are within the ambit of both international and national health policies, which the government committed itself to implement in addressing the social determinants of health within the normative framework of universal health coverage.  

“WHO EndTB Strategy to which Botswana’s TB Policies are aligned has as a key highlight of its programme implementation, a community lead process in ending the TB epidemic. BOLAMA advocates for the right to social protection of ex-miners who form part of a demographic most are at risk and are affected by TB in Botswana,” he said.

“TB affects populations inequitably and this varies according to demographic, social, economic and environmental circumstances. TB is the leading cause of death amongst ex-miners.”

Phiri added that BOLAMA had been party to and supporting the regional TB/Silicosis class action suit whose objective has been to seek damages for harm suffered by former employees of apartheid era gold mining companies.

These miners contracted occupational diseases and beneficiaries of miners who died as a result of these diseases.

Immediately after the Regional Widows Forum in the Mining Sector in April of 2017, Phiri noted that BOLAMA called for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee.

The committee was meant to tackle ex-miners’ issues, including those relating to universal access to health coverage, social protection and portability of accrued cross border benefits.

“Despite numerous calls to government through its key ministries, BOLAMA is yet to get a response. On or about September 26, 2018, BOLAMA raised concern over the lack of representation from the TB community in the Botswana delegation that attended the UN General Assembly in New York and the President’s non-attendance at the UN High Level Meeting on TB,” he

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noted.

Furthermore, Phiri explained that Botswana has to date not been able to “adopt game changing tactics” as declared in the speech by the Minister of Health and Wellness at the UN General Assembly.

He said TB rate in Botswana remains high saying they cannot begin to deal with the disease without having a multi-sectoral accountability framework.

He explained the framework, aligned with the End TB Strategy and UN Political Declaration on TB required key populations and civil society to work in collaboration with governments in ending the disease. 

He added that to date, no household survey or needs assessment that BOLAMA has been involved in has been conducted to determine the catastrophic costs of ex-miners’ households who are suffering from TB whether drug resistant or extra drug resistant.  He said there was no linkage between the department of social protection under the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Health and Wellness for purposes of extending social security and or protection to miners suffering from TB and costs associated with accessing health services and treatment.

“The regional TB/Silicosis Class has and is an opportunity to reduce the economic hardships of ex-miners who due to contracting occupational lung diseases have been rendered redundant and not in gainful employment. 

The court case, to which BOLAMA has been party, is slated to be finalised on May 31, 2019,” he said.

He called on the government of Botswana to remember its commitments under the WHO End TB Strategy from which its TB National Strategic Plan aligned, implementation of the UN Political Declaration on TB, inter-ministerial committee comprising BoLAMA to strategically deal with ex-miners issues and support on the TB/Silicosis regional class suit.

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