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

The U.S. government provided $12.4 million in assistance to mitigate the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 for the people of Botswana. Here is a breakdown of U.S. COVID-19 relief assistance in Botswana to date:

Of the $12.4 million in bilateral funding, $7.2 million is for health facility and community support for infection prevention and control (IPC); $1.7 million is to construct 14 COVID-19 isolation facilities to support pandemic mitigation efforts to remote and under-resourced communities across Botswana; $2.8 million is supporting vaccination programs (including $700,000 to strengthen the supply chain); $500,000 was used to develop an emergency supply chain playbook; $196,000 addressed HIV-related COVID-19 issues; and $50,000 was for PPE procurement.

In addition to our $12.4 million in bilateral contributions, The U.S. provided $2 billion to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to respond to the pandemic worldwide through vaccine procurement and delivery via the COVAX facility, and we plan to provide an additional $2 billion later this year and once other donor countries’ commitments are also realized.

The U.S. Mission has been in close consultation with counterparts at the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) to prioritize use of the bilateral funds. Here are some examples of the support we are providing:

The U.S. Mission published COVID-19 prevention and management materials for clinics and public spaces. We are also developing content for the national COVID-19 communications campaign, and we hosted webinars for healthcare workers on COVID mitigation measures and monitoring.

The U.S. Mission supported Infectious Disease Care Centers (IDCC’s) with triage stations to decongest waiting rooms and PPE for people living with HIV who came for treatment.

U.S government support is also going toward the review and implementation of integrated disease surveillance and response guidelines. We are assisting MoHW to strengthen surveillance of Influenza like Illnesses (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in line with WHO guidelines. We are also assisting MOHW to develop and rollout a monitoring and evaluation plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The U.S. Mission is 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 and prevent them from spreading.

The U.S. Mission is building COVID-19 isolation clinics to improve access to healthcare for those infected with COVID-19 in remote parts of Botswana

The U.S. Mission is helping the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) to manage the national testing for the current pandemic, develop an outbreak surveillance and response system, develop quality management systems for the lab and act as oversight for other public health laboratories.

In close collaboration with the MoHW, through U.S. based NGOs, FHI360, Project Concern International, and Chemonics through their offices in Botswana, we are engaged to provide needed expertise and provide complementary response to COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana:

The U.S. Mission is supporting the MoHW’s COVID response, especially at the district level. The funds are being used to support District Health Management Teams (DHMT) with contact tracing, surveillance, risk communication, and strengthening border posts.

The U.S. Mission has been supporting DHMT efforts for infection prevention and control (IPC) through dissemination of messages through mass media, social media and interpersonal communication, and support to isolation and quarantine efforts. Support to isolation and quarantine efforts include assisting the roll out of the National Home Isolation Strategy. At the national level we helped develop and cost the strategy. At the district level this includes working with DHMTs to roll out the strategy through provision of supplies and HR support.

Shortly after the first lockdown, the U.S. Mission supported Botswana Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Support Center to provide emergency services in Francistown to address the increase in gender-based violence due to the COVID lockdown.

The U.S. Mission is supporting Central Medical Stores to prepare the country’s supply chain system for the demands of the vaccine roll out from receipt of vaccines in Botswana to distribution to the vaccine sites and to administration of vaccines. This includes optimizing warehousing and distribution of vaccines from the central level to the vaccination centers, procurement of supplies to ensure the integrity of the cold chain, and training to strengthen vaccine monitoring.

The U.S. Mission will strengthen Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BOMRA’s) efforts to surveille the safety of COVID vaccines, including training of DHMT staff to monitor Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI).

The U.S. Mission has also supported the development of an emergency supply chain playbook to bolster the efforts of the Central Medical Stores to continue to ensure the people of Botswana can access life-saving medication during the COVID-19 pandemic and for potential future pandemics.

Working closely with the MoHW at the national level, the U.S. Mission is supporting the Government of Botswana’s (GoB) vaccine roll out efforts. This included support for the national “Arm Ready” campaign, support for risk communications at the community level, community mobilization efforts and strengthening clinics’ capacities for vaccine administration through provision of HR support for screening and administration of vaccines.

The U.S. Mission developed radio messages and other risk communication tools to ensure rural and urban communities are well informed of the risks and prevention measures for COVID-19. Our Let’s Talk campaign, featured on social media and three different radio stations, incorporated COVID-19 prevention, and awareness themes.

In addition to this official assistance, the U.S. Mission is engaging our network of U.S. universities, NGOs, and businesses to support Botswana’s COVID-19 efforts. In particular, the University of Maryland, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and the University of Washington partner with us in our public health programming. Here are some examples of the support we are providing:

The U.S. Mission funded a university partnership between Rutgers Global Health Institute, the GoB Ministry of Health, and the University of Botswana to create a Clinical Telehealth Program for Distance learning, Tele-mentoring, and Telemedicine in Botswana.

Through an Alumni Rapid Response Grant, the U.S. Mission partnered with NGO Young Africa Botswana to fund an awareness campaign aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in high-risk communities in Botswana. The campaign trained youth to sew face masks and work with local artists to paint murals with COVID-19 public health messaging.

Through a U.S. Embassy funded grant to a Fulbright alumna, the U.S. Mission provided 50 tablets to students at the Tsabong Secondary School to accommodate e-learning during the pandemic.