What Botswana Can Teach the World About Solving a Health Crisis

A long-standing commitment to public-private partnerships offer an example to countries about the possibilities of treating deadly diseases.
Jan 18, 2022 8:45 AM ET
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A worker helps a person register for the COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in Gaborone, Botswana, on Oct. 12, 2021.(TSHEKISO TEBALO/XINHUA VIA GETTY IMAGES) Image courtesy of U.S. News

Originally published by U.S. News

By John Damonti and Michael B. Mizwa

In 1999, with the country ravaged by HIV and its future existence literally in doubt, Botswana embarked on an aggressive plan to curtail the transmission of the virus from mother to child. The Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation’s Secure the Future program were the first two initial partners in the country’s efforts to develop their pediatric HIV response. The BMS Foundation began work in 2001 by supplying the funding and BIPAI providing the science and medical expertise. By 2003, the Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence was treating 1,200 children a year and training hundreds of health care practitioners. This was at a time when there was skepticism about whether it was even possible to treat HIV-infected children effectively in low- and middle-income countries, much less do so at scale.

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