Saving the nation

He rose to prominence as a sports presenter before shunning the limelight to work as a Private Secretary.

Treasure Mothobi is now firmly back in the media spotlight due to his new position as the Head of Partnerships in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Though he is tasked with monitoring and evaluating partnerships and a Memorandum of Understanding, the Selibe Phikwe-born Mothobi’s ultimate mandate is to create a healthier Botswana.

Non-communicable diseases such as strokes and sugar diabetes have overtaken HIV/AIDS in terms of fatalities.

It is the 36-year-old’s responsibility to ensure that Batswana are aware of the potentially lethal dangers of leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

Daniel Chida recently caught up with the former schoolteacher to find out a little more about the man and his mission.

Q. Tell us about your background.

A. I am a married man with one son. Though we originate from Maitengwe, I was born and spent my childhood in Selibe Phikwe. I did my studies, Bachelor of Arts in Communications, at the University of North West and upon completion, I went back to do a Post Graduate Certificate in Moral Education.

I then got a job as a teacher at Moselewapula Junior School. The funny thing is that it only lasted for 10 weeks! I had to quit because I could see I was not meant for the classroom.

I was lucky as I got a job at Mike Klink’s GBC TV, together with Thobo Thasana and Amangwe Madisakwana. We were continuity presenters, newsreaders and doing almost everything.

We were doing that for passion as there was no payment!

Q. How did you land your job at BTV?

A. In November 2006 I auditioned for sports newsreader and got the job.

The following year I joined Radio Botswana and went on to become a producer for programmes such as Masa A Sele, Around the World Today and Tatediso Ya Dikgang.

Along the way, I received many awards including, Best Producer for Masa A Sele, Coca-Cola Radio Sports Journalist and much more. That’s where I was christened ‘Motsabakedi’.

In 2011 we lost a number of staff members, including Christopher Nyanga, and I was transferred back to BTV on promotion as News Editor and we assembled a team that included the likes of Bethani Mando and Lovemore Mario.

Q. Take us through your journey?

A. I saw an opportunity and became a Private Secretary for Dr Gloria Somolekae who was a minister for the then Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.

My role was to advise and monitor all her assignments. We dealt with disability and poverty eradication issues. Cabinet was then reshuffled and we went to the Ministry of Health.

Somolekae then lost the primary elections and never made it to Parliament. I had to work instead under Dr Alfred Madigele.

I managed his diary and he eventually saw me as a colleague rather than his Private Secretary.

I would address him by his first name.

On some occasions, he would leave his ministerial duties and become a doctor.

Q. Let’s talk about your current job.

A. I am Chief Health Officer – Head of Partnership, it is a division in the Ministry of Health and Wellness that is in charge of all the agreements that are made between the ministry and other stakeholders.

I am talking of memorandum of Understanding and Agreements that we sign.

Some of the partners include Botswana Harvard Partnerships, which helps in HIV/AIDS studies, Botswana-Baylor Partnerships, PEPFAR, ACHAP, UNICEF, WHO including ZCC.

ZCC will be donating a clinic to the ministry in Mmopane as part of their community partnerships.

We will be welcoming the 15th group of Medical Doctors from China.

So I monitor and evaluate these partnerships to see if the agreements are happening on the ground.

Q. What are some of the challenges you have faced?

A. We have not reached where we want to be in terms of wellness.

We would like to have partners who will help us find preventive measures rather than concentrating on just the cure.

Public education is lacking, people need to utilise our clinics instead of rushing to Princess Marina.

You find incredible congestion there while clinics are empty – it paints a bad picture of us as the ministry!

Q. Are people aware of this?

A. We always inform them but it looks like they prefer going to Referral Hospitals without being referred.

I think more public awareness is needed.

Q. You were talking about wellness being a challenge – can you elaborate on this?

A. HIV is still killing us but it is not the major concern anymore. Now our challenge is non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, stroke and heart diseases.

People collapse and die in their sleep and some die on the roads while driving and it’s dismissed as an accident. We really need to take the fight to the people.

As a ministry, we are trying and our Minister, Dorcus Malesu has introduced Walk for Help Campaign while DHMTs have introduced their wellness days.

In Block 7 and Old Naledi in Gaborone, we have introduced public gyms and some people are responding but the majority of us are still not taking fitness seriously enough.

We will fight these diseases the way we fought HIV.

Festus Mogae’s government led in the HIV fight and the current one is into wellness.

What we need is to teach people how to eat properly. People are drinking excessively and have extremely poor diets, which is not healthy.

We have to eat vegetables and exercise – we want to push people.

Q. Thanks for your time, how are you going to spend your weekend?

A. I am nursing a leg injury, which I sustained while playing social football! You see I have to be an example; I cannot tell people to be healthy if I am not.

We wish you a speedy recovery.

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