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University of Botswana Public Health Medicine Unit contributions to the national COVID-19 response


Keatlaretse Siamisang
Dineo Kebadiretse
Tiny Masupe

Abstract

COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020. Botswana reported its first case on 30th March 2020 and as of 31st January 2021 had 21,293 cases and 46 deaths. The University of Botswana Public Health Medicine Unit has made significant contributions to the national preparedness and response to COVID-19. The program alumni and Public Health Medicine residents have and continue to provide key technical support to the Ministry of Health and Wellness across the major pillars of COVID-19. This includes key roles in national and subnational coordination and planning, surveillance, case investigations and rapid response teams, points of entry, travel and transportation, infection prevention and control and case management. The unit is thus supporting the country in achieving the World Health Organization (WHO) primary objective of limiting human-to-human transmission, optimal care of the affected and maintaining essential services during the outbreak. The Public Health Medicine Unit has played a key role in capacity building including early rapid COVID-19 training of healthcare workers across the country. Furthermore faculty members and residents are involved in several COVID-19 research projects and collaborations.