Press Statement on Government’s Continued Non-involvement of BoLAMA in TB Programme Management
BoLAMA has without much success made all efforts to engage and collaborate with the Government of Botswana on miners’ right to health specifically those suffering from TB and other occupational diseases. These efforts are within the ambit of both international and national health policies which our government has committed herself and enjoined to implement in addressing the social determinants of heath within the normative framework of universal health coverage.
It is common cause that;
i) WHO EndTB Strategy to which Botswana’s TB Policies are aligned has as a key highlight of its programme implementation, a community lead process in ending the TB epidemic.
ii) BoLAMA advocates for the right to social protection of ex-miners who form part of a demographic most at risk and affected by Tuberculosis (TB) in Botswana.
iii) TB affects populations inequitably and this varies according to demographic, social, economic and environmental circumstances. TB is the leading cause of death amongst ex-miners.
iv) BoLAMA has been party to and supporting the regional TB/Silicosis class action suit whose objective has been to seek damages for harm suffered by former employees of apartheid era gold mining companies, who contracted occupational diseases and beneficiaries of miners who died as a result of these diseases.
v) Immediately after the Regional Widows Forum in the Mining Sector in April of 2017, BoLAMA called for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee comprising of BoLAMA, to tackle ex-miners issues, including those relating to universal access to health coverage, social protection and portability of accrued cross border benefits.
vi) Despite numerous calls to Government through its key Ministries, BoLAMA is yet to get a response.
vii) On or about 26 September 2018, BoLAMA raised concerns over the lack of representation from the TB community in the Botswana delegation that attended the UN General Assembly in New York and the President’s non-attendance of at the UN High Level Meeting on TB.
viii) Botswana has to date not been able to “adopt game changing tactics ” as declared in the speech by the Minister of Health & Wellness at the UN General Assembly of 26 September 2018
TB rates in Botswana remain high and we cannot begin to deal with this disease without having a multi-sectoral accountability framework. This framework which is aligned with the End TB Strategy and UN Political Declaration on TB requires key populations and civil society to work in collaboration with Governments in ending this disease.
Presently, no household survey or needs assessment that BoLAMA has been involved in has been conducted to determine the catastrophic costs of ex-miners households who are suffering from TB whether drug resistant or extra drug resistant. There is no linkage between the department of social protection under the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Health and Wellness for purposes of extending social security and/or protection to miners suffering from TB and costs associated with accessing health services and treatment.
The regional TB/Silicosis Class has and is an opportunity to reduce the economic hardships of ex-miners who due to contracting occupational lung diseases have been rendered redundant and not in gainful employment. The court case, to which BoLAMA has been party, is slated to be finalized on the 31st May 2019.
We call on the Government of Botswana to;
i) Remember her commitments under the WHO EndTB Strategy from which her TB National Strategic Plan aligned.
ii) Implementation of the UN Political Declaration on TB
iii) Inter-ministerial committee comprising of BoLAMA to strategically deal with ex-miners issues.
iv) Support on the TB/Silicosis regional class suit
20 May 2019
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