1 February 2011:
Government is Right in Upholding VP’s Right to Privacy
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) wishes to urge the public to uphold confidentiality and the right to privacy before disclosing the nature of the illness of any individual as portrayed in the case of the Vice President (VP) of Botswana, Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe in recent times.
The Director of BONELA Mr. Uyapo Ndadi, said the matter has so far been handled well by the Government of Botswana, as they are not obliged to reveal the nature or cause of the particular ailment for which the VP is in hospital for.
He said, “I am impressed that the Government of Botswana has upheld the principles of disclosure and the VP’s right to privacy as entrenched by the Constitution of Botswana. Government is not obliged to inform the nation of his health status and no statutory requirements compel her to do so.”
Mr. Ndadi also said that although Lt. Gen. Merafhe is the VP, he still enjoys the rights enjoyed by all persons. He added that doctors have a legal and ethical duty to keep this information confidential unless the patient consents to the disclosure or, disclosure is required by law or is necessary in the public interest.
“There is no law in Botswana that binds the government to disclose the VP’s illness, nor is he suffering from a contagious disease in which case, the medical professionals will apply due care. However, it may be helpful for government to inform the nation that the condition of the VP is stable or unstable, although this would only be out of courtesy. On behalf of the BONELA family, I wish VP a speedy recovery”, Ndadi said.