The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has implored SADC Members of Parliament to unite and build resilient health systems, saying they are “the best defence against any health emergency”.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the plea on Sunday in a pre-recorded video message to MPs virtually attending the 47th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. He stressed that unity among the region’s lawmakers regardless of political affiliation as well as collaboration of member states would galvanise national and regional responses to the pandemic. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than one million people all over the world.
Ghebreyesus said: “Political leadership must be united across political party lines and between countries. We are all in this together. As parliamentarians, you have a critical role to play in demonstrating the solidarity that is needed so badly to defeat this virus.” On equity, Ghebreyesus implored the MPs to use their privileged positions as representatives of the people and as legislators to ensure distribution of treatment services and vaccines in a manner that reaches populations with the greatest need.
He underscored the need for regaining trust and the dissemination of accurate information during the COVID-19 crisis. “If we are to control this virus, it’s critical that countries share up-to-date information,” he said. Ghebreyesus is the first African to be appointed Director-General of the WHO. He became the first WHO official at his level to address the SADC PF, which brings together 15 national parliaments of southern Africa. He told the lawmakers that attaining development in the absence of good health was not easy.
“My brothers and sisters, COVID-19 has demonstrated that health is not just an outcome of development. It is a prerequisite. When we promote and protect health, we promote and protect jobs, businesses, education, gender equality, peace, sustainability and more,” he said. Observers said by referring to the MPs as “my brothers and sisters”, Ghebreyesus remarkably appealed to pathos, put himself on the same level with his target audience and thus regarded them as co-creators of knowledge and solutions.
The Director-General said working together would not only end the pandemic but “build the healthier, safer, fairer Africa we all want.” The SADC PF Plenary was held under the theme: ‘The Role of Parliaments in Strengthening Accountability during a pandemic: The Case of Covid-19.’ Ghebreyesus said a lot had been achieved in Africa towards containing widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and expanding testing. He, however, said many people were still susceptible and called for vigilance.
He stressed that the virus was still circulating, disrupting economies, upending health systems and jinxing efforts to respond to other communicable diseases. In some cases, immunisation programmes were being compromised, while politicisation of public health and weak governance and other challenges were creating gaps in which the virus could thrive.
There are still no plans in place to prevent typhoid fever from reaching Botswana. Late last year a typhoid outbreak was confirmed in Zimbabwe. To date, nine deaths and more than 2000 suspected cases of the bacterial infection have been confirmed and there is fear the disease could spread to neighboring countries.
However, when reached for comment on what measures Botswana has in place to prevent cross-border spread, the public relations office at the Ministry of Health and Wellness said there has been a delay in putting an action plan together because relevant people were still on holiday.
“We are only now just meeting and engaging the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/BOTSWANA) and will probably make an announcement later in the week,” said an officer. Health minister, Dorcus Makgatho also told this publication she was still at “Masimo” and will only comment on the 23rd.
The highly contagious disease is caused by the bacterium salmonella typhi. It is endemic in the southern African region and is spread from person-to-person by faecal-oral contamination, direct contact, or through ingestion of food or water contaminated with S. typhi.
Symptoms of the water-borne disease include fever, headache, chills and sweats, abdominal pains, constipation or diarrhea, rose-coloured spots on the chest and enlarged spleen and liver. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that due to the high risk of disease spread, urgent interventions are always needed to provide a global and systemic response to the outbreak.
Travellers to and from affected areas are also advised to be on high alert. Other typhoid prevention measures include hand washing after toilet use and before preparing food, consumption of safe water and good sanitation.
The Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN) has taken its crusade against smoking to legislators and other policy makers asking them to support the development of tobacco law that will prohibit smoking in public areas.
ATN strongly believes that tobacco companies are not like other businesses, as they intentionally make their products addictive, knowing that their products do kill. They also deceive the public and policy makers by attempting to appear credible and trustworthy, yet they aggressively target vulnerable groups.
ATN lobbies against tobacco use because tobacco businesses use lawyers, lobbyists and public relations firms to undermine tobacco control. “They now use strategies perfected in developed markets to addict new smokers in emerging markets,” said the ATN report. Currently Botswana laws allow smoking at public areas such as; restaurants, where there is a selected area for the smokers to enable them to keep away from the non-smokers.
ATN advocates that smoking should be totally banned at both enclosed and outdoor public places. The Control of Smoking Act 65:04 (Sub section, 3-12), prohibits smoking in places like; public places and workplaces. It also encourages ‘Duty of person to protect other persons from tobacco smoke, thus everyone who smokes shall, while smoking take all reasonable measures to ensure that other persons who do not smoke or do not wish to smoke are protected from exposure to tobacco smoke’.Pregnant women and lactating mothers are also urged to keep away from tobacco to protect the unborn or lactating child from exposure to tobacco smoke by avoiding smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke’.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently shown that in restaurants, second-hand smoke levels are twice as high as in other work places without smoke bans.
Diamond life and Reussite Lifestyle in conjunction with Botswana Life Insurance will stage a fit and fabulous fete for fitness and good-lifestyle enthusiasts on June 6.
This one day fitness bazaar is a wellness and glamorous event that amalgamates health, leisure and entertainment activities. The fete came to life following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) concerns over life threatening conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart problems which have gone viral throughout the world. According to Ithabeleng Letsunyane, organiser of the event, they decided to take a step and roll out a programme that could try to sensitise as well as raise awareness on the importance of keeping fit and well all the time.
“This is a sickness awareness event tailored in a fun and pleasurable way. It’s an event for everyone who likes looking and feeling good,” she said. Patrons will get to enjoy a retail experience that will include therapeutic and healthy options like make-up, massages, nail works as well as grooming for men. Letsunyane feels that more often than not there is a perception that grooming is only for women and through this platform the event will shatter such misconceptions. The fete will also present fitness master classes including boot camp provided by the military zumba which is a high paced fun activity and yoga which will help patrons to calm down, stretch muscles, leaving the event goers feeling relaxed.
All these master classes will be facilitated by specialised trainers. Stalls will be available for beauty & massage parlours; health and fresh food distributors, clothing & sports distributors, healthy beverage distributors as well as energy drinks, water supplies companies as well as organic garden supplies. Early-bird tickets for the show which will be held at Westwood International School from 9am until 3pm are sold at P100. After the 26th May, tickets will be sold at P150. They can be found at Poise Bridal Boutique in Masa Centre (CBD) and Hair garage.