The health system, funded by public and private capital, is developing. By now only Gaborone has an excellent hospital. Health care costs have been mainly concentrated in the prevention and treatment of AIDS and malaria, the latter is present in the marshy areas formed in the north of the Okavango River. Among the measures put in place by the government to fight the virus, the complimentary treatments with antiretroviral drugs can be mentioned and a national program for prevention of infection from mother to child.
Only four HIV-positive babies were born in 2022. A very important turning point in the fight against AIDS in Africa, where Botswana is very close to becoming the first country in the continent to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus. This was reported by the Guardian, which recalls how, according to data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of this form of infection has gone from 40% in 2002 to 1% in 2021. During 2022, there were only four HIV-positive newborns. This is a huge step forward, especially considering that in the early 2000s Botswana was the country with the highest infection rate in the world, with almost 40% of the population positive (as demonstrated by the data from Unaids). Festus Mogae, who was the nation’s president at the time, launched an aggressive campaign to defeat both the virus and the stigmatization of those who contracted AIDS.
The success of Botswana’s fight against AIDS
According to Dr. Kaite Mashini, a government doctor, Botswana’s success in the fight against AIDS is mainly linked to a vast education campaign, conducted, among other things, with home visits to all pregnant women, to whom offered free antiretroviral drugs and tests. If in 2022 only 49% of women residing in the country agreed to take an HIV-positive test, in 2021 98% asked to be tested. Furthermore, 98% agreed to undergo antiretroviral therapy. Just over twenty years after the launch of the campaign, Botswana has cut its positivity rate in half. WHO has declared the data a success and the southern African country is aiming for an AIDS-free generation by 2030.
The progress of the scientific community
Meanwhile, scientific research continues to make significant progress in the treatment of AIDS. Last March, researchers at the US National Primate Research Center published data from a promising new study in the journal Stem Cell Reports. Their research has shown that it is possible to develop immune cells resistant to HIV infection in the laboratory. All of this is made possible by genetic engineering.