A sub-Saharan African country of just over two million people, Botswana was significantly impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1990s, with one in four adults infected. High-level leadership, demonstrated by successive presidents of Botswana and leading scientists around the world, enabled the development of an urgent and effective response to the epidemic, as well as the provision of universal, government-funded treatment for HIV. Botswana’s response to HIV/AIDS became one of the models on which the global response to HIV/AIDS was based.
Botswana now faces major challenges in cancer care and prevention, and these challenges are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health
In August 2018, Rutgers Global Health Institute engaged with Botswana leadership, including the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the University of Botswana, to identify global health partnership opportunities. Through these efforts, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, established a memorandum of understanding with the University of Botswana to:
1. help advance the national program in cancer care and prevention;
2. create joint research and training programs to improve cancer care and prevention;
3. create local, subspecialty medical and health professions training programs; and
4. expand national health care capacity and advise in the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, the new academic teaching hospital in Botswana.
The Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health was established in order to advance these initiatives. More recently, the partnership has incorporated a new initiative, which is to:
5. support Botswana’s response to COVID-19.
Building upon these efforts, Rutgers and the Government of Botswana signed an agreement to launch the Botswana-Rutgers Mahube Partnership for Transformation in February 2019. (Mahube means “new dawn” in Botswana’s local Setswana language.) The broad partnership focuses on health care, information technology, higher education and research, entrepreneurship and innovation, civic leadership, and other needs.
A signature program of the Mahube partnership is the Botswana-Rutgers Leadership Summit and Executive Leadership Development Program, led by Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership.