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Breaking the political glass ceiling

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A woman’s place is in cabinet

Throughout her professional life, she has been described as a maverick, forthright, passionate and results driven.

Now at the helm of the Ministry of Health, Dorcus Makgatho has lived up to these generous descriptions and then some!

In an intimate sit down with this accomplished political power player, Makgatho vividly shares her vision for the ministry and the legacy she intends to leave behind.

“It is wrong to continuously deplete health resources on non communicable diseases that can be avoided through adoption of healthy lifestyles. People are simply not taking care of themselves. They have relegated this responsibility to the ministry and all other health facilities. This has had a dire impact on the resources available,” She says

The minister shares that a third of the ministry’s budget is spent attending to the needs of those that have acquired “lifestyle diseases”.

We certainly cannot carry on like this and as the face of the Ministry, Makgato has decided to put her money where her foot is by taking up the fitness challenge head on, embarking on a change of lifestyle both personally and professionally.

I make mention of her visibly smaller figure from the last time I saw her and she excitedly tells me of the Walk for Health campaign.

The Walk for Health campaign makes part of the Ministry’s matrix of implementing doable strategies that would re – energize all to make and follow healthier choices regarding their health.

“We have devised a roadmap that we have started to roll out. At its core is the mandate we wish to drive extensively, which is; One’s health is one’s responsibility. We must all take cognizant to the fact that Your Health is your Wealth.”

She goes on to share how many have ended up leading unhealthy lifestyles all in the name of being progressive.“For instance, it baffles me why people shun Setswana cuisine when we all know the great benefits it possesses.

Even Setswana way of cooking is healthy.

Our traditional foods are rich in nutrients and as we generally do not use a lot of oil, spices and salt, our food retain their goodness but yet we have become obsessed with change and adopting newer and not so healthy options of cooking.

This includes adding way too much concoctions including butter in almost everything.

What happened to high fibre options, mabele, morogo, lehata, moroko and other delicacies we grew up on?

She posits that many health issues that overburden hospitals and clinics across the country stem from poor dietary and sedentary lifestyles.

“ To make matters worse any discomfort or pain felt, one reaches for the medicine cabinet and pops a pill. This sets a bad precedence for our children, ” the minister warns.

It is against this backdrop that Makgatho’s conviction to turn this situation around has become very strong.

“My business grounding has taught me to strive to gain as much as I invest or put in. In business one must get returns that match or surpass their input and I am of the view that the Ministry of Health can benefit from the same school of thought. That is the legacy I wish to leave long after my time.”

What are her thoughts on December, the month of excess, which is also the month of World AIDs Day celebration!

HAVING A GOOD LAUGH: Tshepo Maphanyane and Honourable Minister of Health, Dorcus Makgato
HAVING A GOOD LAUGH: Tshepo Maphanyane and Honourable Minister of Health, Dorcus Makgato

She says; “The silly season is upon us and we are on alert pushing the message we wish for all to internalize. We are ensuring that there is continued Education and Awareness throughout to promote empowerment. We are aware of accidents, assault cases (gender based violence) and even ills from over indulgence leading to impairment of one’s control. This may lead to exposure to risky behavior, for example transmission of HI virus. Unfortunately I believe that we are victims of our own successes. It may seem as though much exposure of HIV/Aids have made it a less important subject and people are immune to its mention. This is worrying as then people may not be as diligent in upholding the ABC’s. We must not be complacent simply because antiretroviral are there to keep them alive.”

Even though Makgatho will also be alert of any eventualities during the festive season, she looks forward to the rare chance of spending quality time with her family.

“No matter how busy or important one is, there is no greater investment than family. One must cherish this critical structure and put in the time with everyone, after all charity begins at home. I am proud to serve my country and as a true patriot I am humbled to be of service to many, however I have a clear understanding that one must also make time to refuel and recharge to keep up with the demands of this hectic office. I am hoping to go to “masimo” and possibly my favorite place in Botswana; Chobe.

Apart from gardening, which relaxes me, I will not trade my time spent in the outdoors taking in the beautiful Botswana sunsets, sitting under “setlhare as morukuruku”and enjoying the simple things in life for anything. In this setting I have no wish to talk shop,” she says as she end the interview