Training Doctors for Botswana, 1966 to 2017

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Oatlhokwa Nkomazana
Thabo Mokoena
Edward Maganu
Loeto Mazhani


This piece is a straight forward account of how Botswana trained its medical doctors from the country’s independence in 1966 to 2017, the latter constituting roughly the first decade after the University of Botswana (UB) started to enrol medical students in 2009. By 2008, Botswana was one of the five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa without a medical school. With a relatively high Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Botswana was able to meet some of her medical doctors needs through training doctors in regional and international medical schools and recruitment of expatriate doctors. This strategy was eventually deemed unsustainable, as many of those trained overseas did not return to work in Botswana. After a number of consultative steps, a presidential directive was issued in September 1998 to start a phased medical school at UB. To facilitate this directive a high ranking committee was established to coordinate the planning and resource mobilization for the project. The committee expedited the requisite infrastructural development as well as the development policies and regulations that would enable medical education and training. As part of the phased development of the medical school a four semester pre-medical programme was developed at UB after which students transferred for medical training in four South African and two
Australian medical schools. Finally, a fully-fledged medical school at UB enrolled its first class of medical students and specialist trainees in 2009 and 2010. By October 2017 the school had graduated 171 doctors and 21 specialists, significantly increasing the number of Batswana doctors in the country, which stood at only 382 in 2012. Botswana’s brave decision to invest huge resources in training her doctors is already reaping dividends but there are grave challenges and serious concerns boding ill for the facility.

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