Botswana faces significant challenges in addressing health threats such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and now COVID-19. The second and third quarters of 2021 saw a surge in COVID positive cases and related deaths. In 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 overwhelmed Botswana’s already strained healthcare system as most resources were channeled to curb the spread of the disease and reducing the number deaths and hospitalizations. The National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) aimed to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the eligible population by March 2022. By June 30, 2022, Botswana had fully vaccinated about 1,522,010 people, surpassing the NDVP target and giving Botswana one of the highest vaccination rates in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the uptake of booster vaccines has been slow. The government continues to place significant resources in the fight of this pandemic and has thus allocated one of the largest ministerial total budgets to the Ministry of Health. The government has also attracted investment in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines through a U.S. company, NantWorks. The company is constructing a local manufacturing plant, NantBotswana, which will not only focus on the production of the Pula Corbevax vaccine to fight COVID-19 but will also manufacture vaccines to address other diseases. The GoB has also resolved to establishing the Botswana Public Health Institute (BPHI), as part of the long-term strategy to deal with future public health pandemics. To improve service delivery in the healthcare sector, the government has prioritized human resources development, technology, and supply chain capacity. The government also seeks to improve healthcare infrastructure and provide and upgrade medical and surgical equipment. As part of these improvements, in 2019 the government developed a Health Financing Strategy. The yet to be approved strategy will, among other things, enhance efficiency by involving the private sector in healthcare service delivery at full cost recovery rates to ensure financial sustainability. Botswana has no pharmaceutical production capacity, but domestic companies do import and package bulk drugs.
For the 2022/23 financial year, healthcare was allocated $810 million – the largest share (18.7 percent) of the ministerial recurrent budget. This is a growth of 26.7 percent from the previous budget. This additional funding will be used towards pandemic mitigation. In the last several years, in part due to generous financial assistance from the United States under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Botswana made giant strides in the response to HIV/AIDS. Health sector improvements include construction of new and rehabilitated health facilities, the introduction of data collection and storage technologies, and other innovations such as telemedicine. Botswana’s Ministry of Health is undertaking a series of hospital infrastructure improvements, including improvements to several district medical facilities. Due to shortages of trained healthcare professionals, the government may seek to outsource several health services. To meet this shortage, the GoB along with the University of Botswana built a 450-bed academic teaching hospital, which became the country’s main treatment center for COVID-19 patients.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
The best prospects are in construction, medical technology and surgical equipment, drugs and commodities including COVID-19-related supplies, and supportive healthcare services for treatment of HIV/AIDS and related infections.
Infrastructure improvements and equipment upgrades at several hospitals and medical facilities are planned as part of the government’s infrastructure development plans. The government intends to develop local pharmaceutical production capacity. Some international companies have shown interest in expanding regional production capacity by opening facilities in Botswana. Currently there are two pharmaceutical companies that import bulk drugs for packaging and distribution in the country, with plans to manufacture locally in the future. Construction of private hospitals in the northern part of the country could be another opportunity as private hospitals are concentrated in the south. Local manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other hospital consumables is another area of potential interest.
Other opportunities may include investment in training health personnel, particularly in topics like commodity planning and forecasting, as well as logistics and supply chains. Finally, the technology sector may find opportunity through Botswana’s recently developed e-Health strategy that aims to strengthen its health information systems to improve the collection, dissemination, and storage of data. All public referral, district, and primary hospitals have been connected to the network in an effort to improve quality, safety, timeliness, and efficiency, creating endless opportunities in e-health services and products.
- Botswana Ministry of Health
- Botswana Ministry of Trade and Industry
- Botswana Department of Customs and Excise
- President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): www.pepfar.gov