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Botswana launches organ donor trust fund

The Botswana Ministry of Health, in collaboration with some major companies in the country, has launched an organ donor trust fund to sustain expenditure on referrals for major organ transplants which are mostly done in the neighboring South Africa (US$1=8.0452BWP)

The launch, which was kick-started with a contribution of 3 million pula by various companies in Botswana, was held in Grand Palm in Gaborone 3 December 2008.

Vice President Mompati Merafhe said at the occasion that the government was faced with a difficult challenge of dealing with requests to cover medical expenses for citizens in need of organ transplants, which are always done across the borders and with the organs also coming from people outside the country.

“While the dignity of life of our people forms one of the cornerstones our vision, recognizing and acting to pursue this vision and balancing that against the ever increasing national health budget is a mammoth challenge facing the government,” the VP said.

He said that the current financial resource constraints and high cost of specialized health care services had made it difficult for the government to sustain expenditure on referrals for major organ transplants, such as for liver, heart and kidney.

He told the gathering that bone marrow transplants could cost 12,000 South African rands, while liver transplant will require between 200,000 and 500,000 rands for a single patient at the South African medical centres.

The figures are said to be based on assumption that there will be no complication in the operation, even though a series of post-operative complications can result in long stays in the Intensive Care Units and result in the government paying more money.

The VP urged Batswana to come forward and pledge their organs for donations to those in need of them.

“There are of course medical and ethical issues to be addressed. For example, how we are going to convince people to accept these new life saving programmes. Usually, organ donation is requested on non-conditional basis. This means that neither the donor nor their family can have any influence over who receives the organ.

”In many countries, people who wish their organs used after their death to save lives carry a purpose-designed ‘organ donor card’ in their wallets. As Batswana, we still need to make up our minds about the options to adopt for use in our country,” Merafhe said.

In his speech, the Chairperson of the fund, businessman Satara Dada, said there were already two patients lined up for organ transplants and are in need of help from the fund.

“We have two patients, one from Serowe and one from Gaborone, who are in dire need of help from us and we will ensure that we help. We also want to enlist the help of foundations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations and many other organizations to help us with funds,” said Dada

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