Productivity is threatened by spike in STIs
Information derived from administrative data on patients seen at health facilities countrywide in 2019 by Statistics Botswana shows that since 2015, there has been a general upward trend in the number of people affected by STIs who were attended to at the country’s health institutions.
Whilst a lot of emphasis is placed on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-increasing negative statistics on health and wellness in general in Botswana should be a cause for concern for the country’s productive sector.
One of such major area is in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Information derived from administrative data on patients seen at health facilities countrywide in 2019 by Statistics Botswana shows that since 2015, there has been a general upward trend in the number of people affected by STIs who were attended to at the country’s health institutions.
According to the publication which focuses on analysing General Out-Patient and Preventive Health Statistics in Botswana, over half a million people (551,694) sexually transmitted attendances were recorded in 2019. This is a 7 percent increase on the 515,812 cases recorded in 2018.
Out of the 551,694 total attendances, 30.4 percent (167,745) were new. A closer analysis of the 10-year period data reveals that there has been a huge increase in the number of sexually transmitted attendances from 2015 to 2016, followed by a slight decline of 7.1 percent in 2017, before registering an increase in 2018 and 2019.
The highest recorded attendances were of those who were HIV positive (64.9 percent) followed by those presenting Vaginal Discharge Syndrome (12.8 percent) and Urethral Discharge Syndrome (7.2 percent). The distribution of cases was higher among females (62.0 percent) compared to their male counter parts.
A major concern was the fact that among the age groups, STI cases were higher within the age group 30 years and above (73.5 percent). Since this is the most economically productive age group, there is a need to keep a close eye on these statistics. More importantly, this leads to reduced productivity as the productive demographic is more affected, calling for specific strategies for this age group.
It is encouraging to note that the Botswana Government continues to make efforts to preserve its workforce. In 2019, Botswana reaffirmed its commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 and went on to launch two new health and wellness related five-year strategies. The third National Strategic Framework for HIV/AIDS and the Multi-Sectoral Strategy for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases will guide the government’s strategic response of improve health outcomes for the country’s population up to 2023.
According to UNAIDS, Botswana has made significant progress in its response to the HIV epidemic in recent years. Of the estimated 380 000 people living with HIV in 2017, 320 000 have access to treatment to keep them well.
Botswana was also the first country in Eastern and Southern Africa to provide free and universal treatment to people living with HIV. It has adopted strategies that offer women living with HIV lifelong treatment and provides immediate treatment to people who test positive for the virus.
In an effort to ensure that health workers are equipped to cope with the physical and emotional demands of their jobs, the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated a comprehensive workplace wellness programme for health workers. Workplace wellness programmes are employer initiatives such as health promotion activities or organisation-wide policies directed at improving the health and well-being of workers and, in some cases, their dependents. Data suggests that workplace wellness programmes can have numerous benefits, including lower healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.
This article was prepared by Data Collection & Analysis, a business research firm. Feedback or inquiries can be relayed to 767 406 58.