Building robust and vibrant neighbourhoods requires several different elements, including health and wellness programmes. To meet this objective, the University of Botswana (UB), Batlokwa Tribal Administration, and Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) found it befitting to bring to the community a health and wellness day at the Tlokweng Kgotla, under the theme 'My Kidney, My Health'.
This event was also a joint effort between Batlokwa and the UB Nursing Science students and it aimed to raise awareness among the public about the value of nutrition and how it specifically affects kidneys, as health enthusiasts observed an alarming rise in the number of people with kidney disease in Botswana. As UB is evolving and transforming to be responsive to the needs of society and improve the livelihoods of Batswana, the university showcased its role in the communities and shared knowledge on preventative healthcare. Professor David Norris, the Vice Chancellor (UB) reiterated the UB strategic plan of creating a future for knowledge generation and stipulated that it coincides with government’s transformational agenda for a knowledge-based economy and a knowledge society. “The university’s goal, among others, is to produce graduates with relevant knowledge, skills, and competencies to drive the nation’s human resource needs. Generating diversified, inclusive, and sustainable growth that is characterised by productivity and societal engagement levels. Not only is the University of Botswana obliged to address the human resource needs of this country, but also must spearhead several things including, assisting in the creation of an inclusive society, promoting equality, cultivating informed citizenship, contributing towards societal development, promoting social integration and coercion, promoting and preserving cultural values, and assisting in building healthy communities,” said Norris.
Furthermore, Norris pointed out that the student’s engagement with the community today is evidence of the application of scientific knowledge in addressing community health needs. As such UB must continuously engage with communities to train health professionals and health scientists with a community orientation and cultural sensitivity to meet the totality of the society’s health needs. “The training of health scientists relies heavily on the availability of real-life laboratories, these are the health facilities that we have here, and these are the human subjects. This is instrumental for experiential learning and the transfer of theoretical knowledge to effective health provision. We, therefore, must continuously leverage the community’s continued support to provide an effective platform for teaching and learning,” added Norris.
When residents of a community put their health first, they not only enhance their quality of life but also contribute to the general well-being of the neighbourhood. “It was discovered in 2022 that around 850 million people in the world are affected by chronic kidney disease, so looking at those stats the country at large is affected too. This is proof that this disease is an irreversible condition and is one of the 12 leading causes of death. It is very common knowledge globally that if we are not cautious by 2040, we will find ourselves in deep trouble. In most cases, this disease starts as an acute condition and with time progresses into an end-stage disease,” said Othusitse Fane, Commissioning Manager of SKMTH. Fane urged members of the community to practice good health and avoid medication that was not prescribed to them, also he prompted that stakeholders should work together for a very strong health system as it is now a public-private community interest. In addition, he pointed out there should be prevention of chronic kidney disease and efforts to detect the disease while there is still time.