With HIV prevalence and incidence estimated at 18.5 % and 1.35% respectively, the HIV epidemic constitutes a serious health challenge in Botswana.
This call was made by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele at the launch of the Botswana AIDS Impact and Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey (BAIS) at Fairground Holdings on 2 April 2019.
Dr Madigele pointed out that HIV and AIDS currently remains one of the leading causes of adult morbidity and mortality in Botswana, which continues to have one of the highest HIV prevalence in the world. On Tuberculosis, Dr Madigele said it remains a major threat to public health worldwide and the most common opportunistic infection among people living with HIV.
“It is hence no doubt that many countries the world over, including Botswana, now combine HIV and AIDS programs with TB. The combined HIV/AIDS and TB prevalence survey will be the first ever undertaking in this country, and the fifth Botswana AIDS Impact Survey” he said.
The Minister further said that Botswana intends to be the center of excellence in HIV and TB research hence his ministry is playing a leading role in the implementation of this landmark survey.
Dr Madigele also appealed to district administration authorities and entire health management system around the country to provide necessary support to the survey teams in the next six months of the survey.
The Minister also thanked Statistics Botswana as a key partner, Global Fund, the United States Government, World Health Organization, UN family all of whom are supporting this survey by availing their team of experts as well as funding the survey.
Giving a vote of thanks the Statistician General, Dr Burton Mguni said both Statistics Botswana and the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) have carved an important enduring relation to obtain and disseminate survey data on HIV and AIDS.
“It started with BAIS I and we are now at BAIS V”, he said.
The SG further said that the obtained data has informed many important interventions over the years which have been instrumental in the fight against the pandemic as evidenced by declining rates of HIV and AIDS related morbidity and mortality.
Dr Mguni also said they experienced some challenges with the development of a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) system for data collection. This had to have functionality to capture data at three categories of households, HIV only, TB only and HIV and TB, transmit, have the data from the household transmitted to the labs and allow for the capture of data at the labs.
Dr Mguni said the development and functionalization of this system necessitated the pooling of professional resources from Statistics Botswana, the National AIDS Coordinating Agency with support from the other collaborating partners.
“In this regard a special mention is deserved for the system development team from Statistics Botswana who worked tirelessly under very tight time constraints to develop the survey data collection system”, he said.
The SG also thanked the sectoral Reference Group which provided policy direction in preparing the survey as well as technical working group which provided the much needed technical input and roll out of this project.
The main objectives of the six month survey are to:
• To examine the distribution of HIV in Botswana
• To assess the coverage and impact of HIV services at population level and to measure HIV related risk behaviors
• To determine point prevalence of bacteriology confirmed pulmonary TB in Botswana
• To assess health seeking behavior for TB related symptoms of individuals aged 15 years and above.