What the United States is Doing in Response to COVID-19 in Botswana

Last Updated: October 31, 2022

As of October 2022, the U.S. government has provided more than $21.9 million in assistance to mitigate the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 for the people of Botswana.

Of the $21.9 million in bilateral funding, $10.6 million is for support for infection prevention and control, which includes oxygen support; $1.7 million is for the construction of COVID-19 isolation facilities to support pandemic mitigation efforts in remote and under-resourced communities across Botswana; $4.9 million supports vaccination programs (including $2 million to strengthen the supply chain); $500,000 is to develop an emergency supply chain playbook; $196,000 addresses HIV-related COVID-19 issues; $50,000 is for PPE procurement; $525,000 is for technical assistance to support the implementation of Botswana’s Global Fund COVID-19 funding; and $2.2 million is from PEPFAR Botswana’s Country Operation Plan 2021 funds to mitigate COVID-19 impacts on PEPFAR programs and beneficiaries. The newest funding includes $800,000 to strengthen the COVID-19 data system; $250,000 to assess reasons for vaccination hesitancy and to develop a Botswana-focused provider vaccination toolkit to encourage vaccination acceptance; and approximately $200,000 to strengthen border health systems.

In addition to our $21.9 million in bilateral support, the United States provided $2 billion to Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to respond to the pandemic worldwide through vaccine procurement and delivery via the COVAX facility.  In 2021 the U.S. government handed over 182,520 Pfizer vaccines to Botswana as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s global efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Mission has been in close collaboration with counterparts at the Ministry of Health (MoH).  Examples of our successful health partnership include:

  • Supporting Infectious Disease Care Centers with triage stations, including tents and chairs, to decongest waiting rooms for HIV care appointments.
  • Supporting the review and implementation of integrated disease surveillance and response guidelines. Assisting the MoH to strengthen surveillance of influenza like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections in line with WHO guidelines. Assisting MoH with its monitoring and evaluation plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
  • Publishing COVID-19 prevention and management materials for clinics and public spaces. Developing content for the national COVID-19 communications campaign, and hosting webinars for healthcare workers on COVID-19 mitigation measures and monitoring.
  • Supporting the establishment and operationalization of the Botswana Public Health Institute, which will strengthen the public health system and provide safe, comprehensive, and high-quality public health services and coordination management of future public health emergencies.
  • Assisting the National Public Health Laboratory to manage national COVID-19 testing, develop an outbreak surveillance and response system, and develop laboratory quality management systems. Providing technical support to other public health laboratories.
  • Establishing a Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program to build a corps of in-country “disease detectives” to catch and control disease outbreaks like COVID-19.
  • Seconding Strategic Information Officers to the MoH COVID-19 Data Management Center to assist with the weekly data analytics and report writing.
  • Procuring Information Technology equipment to increase data server capacity and improve District Health Management Teams (DHMT) virtual training capacity.
  • Seconding a District Health Information Software (DHIS) developer to assist with the development of the DHIS2 COVID Tracker to manage COVID-19 data.
  • Supporting the MoH’s COVID response, especially at the district level, by providing technical assistance with contact tracing, surveillance, risk communication, and strengthening COVID-19 testing at border posts.
  • Supporting Central Medical Stores with the country’s supply chain system for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, including receiving the vaccines, distribution to vaccination sites across the country, and vaccine monitoring. This includes distribution of vaccines from the central level to vaccination centers, procurement of supplies to ensure integrity of the cold chain, and training to strengthen vaccination monitoring.
  • Supporting development of the emergency supply chain strategy to guarantee Botswana will have in place the required systems to ensure its people will have resilient and reliable access to life-saving medication during the current pandemic and future pandemics.
  • Strengthening Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority’s capacity to monitor Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Supporting CSOs to implement activities in support of the MoH’s health activities, including the COVID-19 response, a successful Key Populations program, activities for adolescent girls and young women, and general community activities.
  • Supporting DHMT infection prevention and control efforts through mass media and social media messaging, and technical assistance for isolation and quarantine policies.
  • Supporting the Government of Botswana’s (GoB) vaccine roll out efforts for all phases, including support for the national “Arm Ready” campaign, risk communications at the community level, community mobilization efforts, and strengthening clinics’ vaccine administration capacities.
  • Supporting the MoH’s drive-through clinics in Gaborone and Francistown. Support included providing vaccinators, data clerks, community health assistants, drivers, vaccine carriers, gazebos, and vehicles.
  • Developing radio messages and other risk communication tools to ensure both rural and urban communities are informed of the risks and prevention measures for COVID-19. Our “Let’s Talk” campaign, featured on social media and radio stations, incorporated COVID-19 prevention and awareness themes.
  • Supporting Botswana Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Support Center to provide emergency services in Francistown to address the increase in gender-based violence.
  • Providing technical assistance to the MoH to develop Test to Treat clinical guidelines and implementation plans; providing clinical training for facility and community-based healthcare workers; conducting demand generation and community sensitizations; supporting regulatory approval and availability of oral antivirals for COVID-19, as well as developing cost effective drug distribution methods. The Global Fund will procure rapid antigen test kits and oral antiviral medications for this activity.
  • Engaging our network of U.S. universities, NGOs, and businesses to support Botswana’s COVID-19 efforts
  • Funding a university partnership between Rutgers University, the University of Botswana, and the Ministry of Health to create a Clinical Telehealth Program for distance learning, tele-mentoring, and telemedicine.
  • Funding an awareness campaign to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in high-risk communities. The campaign trained youth to sew face masks and worked with local artists to paint murals with COVID-19 public health messaging.
  • Providing 50 tablets to students at the Tsabong Secondary School to accommodate e-learning during the pandemic
  • Providing a public workshop on seeking employment and pursuing entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Supporting the MoH with strengthening the Port Health Unit to control the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, through training and commodities.