Refugees in Botswana left out of ARVs


Refugees are not provided with anti-retroviral therapy and they no longer on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, says Ross Sanoto, the under secretary for political affairs in the Office of the President.

Sanoto said this during a Ditshwanelo, the Centre for Human Rights workshop in Gaborone last week Sanoto said because of resources constraints, government was unable to provide the refugees with ARVs.

He said initially the expectant mothers were provided for and had access to PMTCT programme but it was recently halted.

However, Sanoto said refugees in Botswana had access to formal employment and could apply for jobs just like any Motswana.

He further said the refugees were allowed to start up their own businesses if they so wished.

Sanoto said private organisations and individuals willing to help provide refugees with anti-retroviral therapy were free to do so.

He added that those who offer to help the refugees with the anti-retroviral therapy should have capacity to sustain the supplies because if you start providing them it should not end, as it was life-long.

He further said private organisations should also know that being a refugee was a temporary thing and therefore that private organisation should be ready to provide the therapy to those people even when they returned to their countries.

Should the situation change they should find ways and means of providing to those people in their countries, he said.

Boitumelo Segwabanyane, the project coordinator at the Dukwi Refugee Camp, said even though the parents could not use PMTCT programme after birth children were provided with milk formula because the HIV positive people were not allowed to breastfeed.

Segwabanyane said authorities have arranged with clinics to supply milk formula to the affected children.

When refugee parents die, the government takes care of their orphans. She further said they could give the children for adoption to the foster parents inside the camp, even though many of the refugee parents have the problem with foster parenting.

The orphans can be reunited and returned to their countries of origin if there was an clear link with relatives back home.

She added that several cases of HIV-positive refugees had also been reported

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