September 28, 2023
As prepared for delivery
- Honorable Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Edwin Dikoloti (Dee-koh-loh-tee);
- Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Professor Oatlhokwa (Oh-ah-toh-kwah) Nkomazana (N-koh-mah-zah-nah);
- University of Botswana (UB) Vice Chancellor, Professor Davis Norris;
- USAID/Botswana acting Country Representative, Stephen Kowal (Koh-wahl);
- WHO Country Representative, Dr. Josephine Nyamboze (Niam-bo-zeh);
- UNAIDS Country Director Dr. Alankar Malviya;
- UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Joan Matji;
- Gaborone District Commissioner Ms. Dintle (Din-the) Setlhotlhe (Seh-tloh-tleh);
- Tebelopele Board Chairperson, Honorable Major General Pius Mokgware (Moh-kwah-re);
- Representatives from the government departments at national, district and local levels;
- Development partners, civil society organizations, media houses;
- The vibrant University of Botswana community;
- Esteemed guests;
Dumelang! Good morning.
I am very excited to be here with all of you this morning witnessing the launch of this phenomenal milestone, which is going to be a game changer in Botswana’s health response. The U.S. government, through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has procured four mobile clinics that will provide integrated, one-stop-shop health care services at community and household levels to Batswana community members country wide.
The Community Clinics on Wheels are an innovation and an alternative to the traditional ways of providing health care by packaging health care services in a client-centered manner. They can bring services closer to the people and at times and venues more accessible to clients. As some may be aware, the fifth Botswana AIDS Impact Survey conducted in 2021 revealed that the country had achieved 95-98-98 towards reaching the UNAIDS goals of eliminating HIV as a public health threat by 2030. The introduction of these mobile clinics will help to break barriers to accessing health care and accelerate the momentum towards reaching the remaining 5-2-2 of the population still not identified by our traditional HIV programs.
The Community Clinics on Wheels are intended to provide services at the community level, ensuring that those who have not used traditional health service delivery models – consistently, or at all – have equal and increased access to health care services. This is in alignment with the government of Botswana’s broader goal of revitalizing Primary Health Care and ensuring Universal Health Coverage by building resilient community structures, making services more accessible, available, and person-centered. Many people are not able to access public health care facilities for different reasons, and these clinics provide a viable solution to their challenges.
The Community Clinics on Wheels offer implementing partners an opportunity to provide a range of integrated health care services through outreach services. These clinics will provide an impressive array of services: HIV testing; pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention (PrEP); anti-retroviral treatment; viral load testing; tuberculosis screening and prevention; gender-based violence screening; post-violence clinical services; sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment; non-communicable disease screening and treatment; family planning; condom education and distribution; and other services.
This occasion marks a longstanding commitment of the U.S. government to support the strengthening of Botswana’s healthcare system, and specifically its integrated community health program. For the past twenty years, PEPFAR has partnered with the Government of Botswana in the fight against HIV/AIDS: we have invested more than $1 billion USD in Botswana over the past 20 years, which is an honor and a privilege. Since then, Botswana has made significant strides in reducing the burden of HIV among the different population groups.
Our ongoing partnership has produced a series of innovations in the system. Just a few months ago, the U.S. government, through USAID, shared the podium with
the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Edwin Dikoloti, to launch another health care innovation — digital medication dispensing lockers. These are operated in partnership with Botswana Post to expand health service delivery and reach more people with health services by allowing them to access their medications through digital lockers. The lockers are located at the Mogoditshane and Gaborone Main Mall Post Offices. This is something we could not have imagined here in Botswana a mere three years ago.
The project we are launching today is a testament to PEPFAR’s continuing investment in strengthening Botswana’s health infrastructure, community-based health services, and its revitalization of primary health care services. Clients will have access to health services at their convenience and outside traditional health facilities. This will reduce the client load on health facilities and waiting time for patients, and significantly improve the quality of health service provision overall.
In closing, let me express my appreciation to the University of Botswana, our esteemed host, for a robust partnership over the years through our implementing partners. I understand the UB community has been a key partner in our outreach services; that is why today we have gathered in the UB Business Faculty amphitheater to celebrate this milestone. Finally, let me take this opportunity to commend the Government of Botswana for its success in revitalizing primary health care, and working to integrate HIV into other health services. This event marks another milestone in Botswana’s phenomenal HIV/AIDS response and is exemplary of the longstanding partnership between the Government of Botswana and the U.S. government. We look forward to continuing to see innovations leveraged throughout health service delivery, and it will be especially gratifying to see all people receiving services through these innovations, as the services are open to everyone.
Together we hope to make a difference toward building sustainable health systems and saving lives in Botswana.
Thank you all and Pula!