In September, 1966, Botswana won independence from Great Britain, pushing forward to establish their own democracy. Yet, despite their monumental achievement, it was not always smooth sailing for the small country. In the early eighties Botsawna was taken by a widespread epidemic of HIV, affecting a quarter of their adult population. Over the last fifty years they have struggled to preserve their history, their wildlife and their people.1
With the country lacking in both education on the disease and the medical care to combat it, things seemed hopeless. Despite having several larger cities, Botswana’s population is still rather spread out across the country and even into the Kalahari Desert. These outlying communities consist mostly of cattle farms, but there are still pockets of nomads who continue to live off the land as they have for centuries. Yet, these hurdles did not deter officials from taking the offensive stance on HIV.
Due to successful mining industries, especially diamonds, as Botswana’s largest export, and with the help of an emergency HIV program, PEPFAR, and a few other organizations, Botswana began to give access to life changing medication. Within the last thirty years, Botswana has been able to provide medication to nearly 95% of the population2. Though currently, HIV does not have a cure, the government of Botswana will continue to provide medical care to as many citizens as they can, while also giving the education needed to prevent and manage this disease. A feat that would not have been possible without the revenue brought in by the diamond industry.3
Did you know that diamonds have helped Botswana keep kids in school?
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