Choppies has entered into an agreement with Airborne Lifeline Foundation to extend delivery of medical services in the country this week.
As per the agreement, Choppies will be lending the Foundation its private airplane to help transport specialist doctors and health care professionals from Gaborone to regional clinics.
Choppies Managing Director, Ramachandran Ottapath, said that the aircraft is in good condition as they have been using it for their business trips for 16 years without experiencing any difficulties.
“Without this plane we would not have been able to operate our business effectively and efficiently,” said Ottapath. The president and founder of Airborne Lifeline Foundation, Jonathan Miller, said that the partnership would allow them to extend their services to remote areas where they are most needed.
“Previously, we used to borrow from National Airways Corporation, Flying Mission School and Kalahari Air Services,” he said, adding that they will be paying for the fuel and the pilots.
According to Miller, they will have to find ways to afford these costs as their partnership with Centre for Disease Control and PEPFAR, who were funding them, has just ended. He pointed out that they would be relying on the government of the United States of America (USA) to come to their aid. Thousands of Botswana citizens and residents residing in remote areas of the country where access to referral hospitals is limited have received care from specialised physicians through the Foundation.
“Since our first flights in 2007, we have flown health workers who have treated thousands of patients, as well as shipped thousands of pounds of medications in particular ARVs and other HIV-related commodities,” said Miller. Airborne is now also carrying supplies and health staff to allow women in Botswana and Zambia to have access to screening and treatment for cervical cancer under ‘Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon’.
Even though the US government is committed to ensuring the best possible health outcomes for Batswana, private sector engagement has been called for, as it is critical in the coming years to sustain response to HIV/AIDS, TB and related diseases.
Meanwhile, the US has invested nearly P6 billion to the Botswana government to fight against HIV care and programming since 2004.
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) through the Ministry of Health coordinates the money.
“The US government has provided technical and financial support to the Botswana and its citizens through PEPFAR,” the care and treatment officer of Centre for Disease Control Botswana, Dr Mpho Letebele said.
PEPFAR’s efforts have been in four broad areas of HIV prevention, system strengthening, strategic information and treatment, and care and support activities.