Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to pay attention to and adjust its assistance to the requirements of countries facing a twin burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Masisi said at the official opening of the 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, that the biggest health problem Botswana is now facing is the transition from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases.
“We are locked in an epidemiological transition from communicable diseases to an increasing non-communicable disease burden. These include heart diseases that have increased by 31 percent, stroke by 19 percent, and diabetes by 40 percent,” said Masisi.
Masisi also noted that the new digital era provides the potential to increase leverage on improving people’s health and well-being. “Digital technology has the potential to enhance health outcomes by improving medical diagnosis, data-based treatment decisions, digital therapeutics, clinical trials, self-management of care, and person-centered care,” he said.
In addition, he urged developed countries to connect their assistance with regional and national priorities, such as removing conditions on voluntary contributions.
During the session, Botswana and the WHO jointly announced the Botswana National Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Reference Laboratory’s classification as a WHO Collaborating Center of Excellence in honor of the laboratory’s expertise in HIV diagnosis.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Botswana has already proven considerable success in the HIV response and serves as an example for many other nations.
“It was certified by the WHO for reaching the silver tier on the path to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in 2021, and in 2022, it reached the 95-95-95 targets for testing, treatment, and viral suppression, one of only five countries to do so,” Ghebreyesus said.