The New US Ambassador to Botswana visits the WHO Country Office

Gaborone, Botswana - 18 April 2019: The new Ambassador of the United States to Botswana His Excellency Craig Cloud visited the WHO Country Office to familiarize himself with WHO work and jointly explore possibilities for cooperation in supporting the government efforts on health. Ambassador Cloud expressed admiration for Botswana’s achievements and strong leadership in coordinating partner support. He intimated that after his analysis of the USG support to Botswana to date and after engaging with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other partners, he is leading a review of the USG programming and changing the operational culture which he feels is unsustainable. He said “the culture of non-ending meetings and slow implementation is unsustainable and needs to change. We also can’t have priorities different from those of government. We need to support Botswana priorities with the government in the lead. It should be a true partnership different from a donor recipient relationship.”

Earlier the WHO Representative Dr Martins Ovberedjo had welcomed the Ambassador and thanked him for honouring WCO with the visit. He said he felt reassured by the Ambassador’s sentiments in speeches and conversations before that there are possibilities and opportunities to work together. He highlighted that in his considered view, Botswana’s challenges are more technical than political. He said that in that regard a possible partnership could include funding for or placement of two key technical personnel in the WCO, namely Health Systems Support and Data/Strategic Information officers to strengthen these key areas in the Health System.

In response Ambassador Cloud intimated that in principle the USG through his office is prepared to help remove any hurdles to progress and consider shifting focus to other key areas such as Health security/Emergencies, Strategic Information and others as may be agreed to. He said this might lead to repurposing of staff, structures and mandate while sticking with proven strategies to tackle the new focus areas.

He said the repurposing and refocusing could be in the same light as the National AIDS Coordinating Agency which has since been re-designated the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) with an expanded mandate to include Health Promotion as well as coordination and prevention functions for Non-communicable Diseases. Ambassador Cloud feels strongly that as HIV/AIDS cannot be a perpetual emergency, there might need to be a shift in PEPFAR funding and programming. He committed to take the WCO proposal and present it at their next global planning meeting in Washington. Ambassador Cloud was accompanied by Ms Nwando Diallo, who is the acting CDC Country Director.

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