As we enter the final days of lockdown, also known as extreme social distancing, Botswana and the rest of the world have learnt from others’ mistakes.
There are lessons to learn from countries such as China, Singapore, South Korea and Germany, which have managed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the best practices learnt from those countries is that they did aggressive screening and testing programmes right from the beginning. These countries have not stopped screening and testing as they have not wanted to take chances. Unlike countries that were initially COVID-19 denialists by labelling the spread of the pandemic as hoax, screening and testing have proved to be the answer to arrest this virus and it is working in their favour.
Fortunately, Botswana has registered few positive cases of COVID-19 but it doesn’t mean we cannot embark on screening and testing so that we are on the safe side now and in the future. Remember all the countries that are doing badly failed to do early screening and testing, hence in the process so many precious lives were lost unnecessarily.
This virus has exposed our the mess in the country's public health sector. Although it is expensive, it is high time the country capacitates the testing laboratories so that we are prepared for future pandemics.
And as coronavirus is here to stay, we need to invest more in testing laboratories. This is also to save us money that Botswana pays for testing labs in neighbouring South Africa. COVID-19 has also taught us a good lesson to prioritise health care when we budget. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation!
We need to take care of our health workers and by so doing we would not lose them en masse to Western countries that pay better than Botswana. We must come up with a strategy to retain our foreign-trained health workers, especially medical doctors.
Some of our foreign-trained doctors do not come back home after finishing their studies in affluent countries despite the government of Botswana having invested more funds in their education. This is because Botswana pays peanuts as compared to the first world.
With a fewer trained local specialists, the country is grappling with a high doctor:patient ratio. All that said, Botswana needs to rise to the occasion. With a tactical approach, we can vanquish COVID-19.
"We are facing a human crisis unlike any we have experienced and our social fabric and cohesion is under stress.”
- UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed