Biomedicine, Public Health, and Citizenship in the Advent of Antiretrovirals in Botswana


  • Fanny Chabrol

    Corresponding author
    • Address for correspondence: Fanny Chabrol, UMR 912 SESSTIM, Economics and Social Sciences Applied to Health & Analysis of Medical Information, (Aix Marseille University/INSERM/IRD), 23 rue Stanislas Torrents, 13006, Marseille, France. Email:

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  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared


Often celebrated as a model of development in Africa, Botswana nonetheless endured a severe HIV epidemic. This article describes the singularity of the Botswana experience in facing AIDS and creating the widest possible access to antiretroviral medications for its citizens. Through exploration of different sets of actors and the construction of their ethics of treatment, it is possible to examine how free and universal access was created within the national antiretroviral program. This article underscores the importance of the site and the local dynamics in the advent of an ethics of access to treatment for Botswana citizens. At the intersection of national citizenship, pharmaceutical philanthropy, and biomedical collaborations, Botswana is an exemplary case (one of the first and unique in its kind) of global health programs for access to drugs in which patients' rights are tied to science and pharmaceutical development. As such it also bears some limitations and concerns over its sustainability.