10 November 2008:
BONELA is concerned by reports that children are dying due to failure to access health services in Mokubilo
Health care is a basic human right and the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is concerned by reports that children are dying due to failure to access health services in Mokubilo, a village 100 kilometers east of Orapa in the Boteti sub-district.
Reports reaching BONELA from this area outline a shocking reality of limitations in public health service delivery to orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) who are looked after by caregivers resulting in the death of at least three children in the area this year alone, with five more facing the same predicament.
In Mukubilo, there is a high incidence of children in the 0-14 age group who are living with HIV/AIDS, leading to poor school attendance due to poor health. This points to a failure to implement the interventions of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, considering that where PMTCT is effective, less that 5% of children should be born HIV positive. Further, in specific cases, children are frequently denied access to antiretroviral drugs due to the absence of an appropriate caregiver resulting in death.
Poor access to services by this group of children, whose very situation increases their vulnerability, is compounded by evidence of negligence by service providers, lack of accountability, coordination and cooperation between the social welfare office, medical practitioners and health care givers. BONELA is also concerned that some care givers benefit from the food rations for the children but are not concerned about their welfare or their health.
In light of these reports, BONELA Treatment Literacy focal person for Boteti sub-district, Chirwa Mahloko urges the Government of Botswana to investigate service delivery in this area and rectify the anomalies emanating from it to save the lives of children. He said “Government should also ensure that medical practitioners uphold ethics of their profession and that children’s rights which are also human rights are upheld”.