Choppies airlifts health services to remote areas

SHARE   |   Sunday, 01 February 2015   |   By Ontlametse Sugar
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Choppies has always outdone itself when it came to helping the community that it lives in and giving back to the Batswana. This time around it gave back to the health sector, in which they partnered with Airborne Lifeline Foundation in order to help take the doctors and medication to the remotest places around the country. Airborne Lifeline Foundation was formed by former Peace Corps and Aviation advisor to numerous international airlines and aircrafts companies in Botswana Jonathan Miller in 2004, where he worked with the then Minister of Health Joy Phumaphi, and US ambassador Joseph Huggings. It was their partnership with the Ministry of Health in 2006 through the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that air services began to remote areas around the country in 2007.
 Miller said that Botswana has always been in his heart, and he always wanted to contribute to this nation. He said that though the recession struck in 2008 where they experienced a drastic drop in funds available to Airborne, it was through PEPFAR funds in 2009 that they the services of Airborne continued , in which it now serves areas in the Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Chobe. He referred to Choppies as just the right partner, especially that its chairperson, former President of Botswana Festus Mogae is an internationally recognised icon who has fought the HIV battle for all Batswana. "Remote primary hospitals have seen medical specialists on a regularly scheduled basis, thereby eliminating the need for some patients to travel long distances for treatment to either Francistown or Gaborone," Miller said.
Since 2012, Airborne has been offering clinical assistance to rural facilities in Gantsi, Hukuntsi, Kasane, Maun, Tsabong, Gumare and Seronga, in which 14 996 patients were seen on 232 outreach flights with 942 doctors. Mpho Letebele from Centre for disease control(CDC), said that through PEPFAR funds more than 6 billion pula have been pumped into the project, saying that private partnership is pivotal, and as such acknowledging Choppies efforts which will go a long way in assisting Airborne achieve its mandate and help Batswana. The chairman of Choppies Mogae said that with him having Botswana at heart, it was easy for them at Choppies with the group CEO Ramachandran Ottopath to agree on the partnership, and Ottopath knew that he can never say no. He applauded all the health specialists around the country for the good work that they have been doing in which their strides in combatting HIV/AIDS as Botswana have been felt mostly in the Sub Saharan Africa and Botswana itself. He further raised his concerns that at the moment Batswana treat HIV/AIDS as if it is a nightmare that has come and gone, even though it is still there. He said that the virus is still there, and as such authorities need to engage more with people because at the moment people are living as if there is no longer AIDS, which then puts the younger ones mostly at risk because they did not have the chance to experience how bad it was back in the years, and how many lives were lost because of that. He said that it is always Choppies' efforts to assist the livelihoods of Batswana in a lot of different things.
Flight A2 CDC with CDC standing for Choppies Distributing centre, and A2 as the code for all flights registered in Botswana, has two pilots that will always fly the doctors to the different places when need be, according to the Airborne schedule.



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