Dr George Matlho (right) at the official opening ceremony of the new FMD vaccine production line at BVI in 2010, in company of the then President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. Ian Khama (left). Picture (c) M. Samson (oie) 2010.
The OIE is deeply saddened by the untimely passing on 25 September 2020 of Dr. Onkabetse George Matlho, Designated Expert of the OIE Reference Laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and Managing Director of the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) in Gaborone, Botswana.
George was born on the 18 of June 1965. ‘Hero’ as he was popularly known as, enrolled for a Bachelor of Science in 1984 at the University of Botswana. He then earned a scholarship to study for a degree in the field of Veterinary Medicine at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand where he graduated with Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVSC) in 1991. He also holds a Master of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of California, Davis USA (1995) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from University of Botswana in 2002.
Upon completing his first degree, Dr. Matlho joined the Department of Veterinary Services where he held positions of Veterinary Officer and Senior Veterinary Officer respectively (1992 -1996). As a Veterinary Officer, he was involved in public health, food hygiene and safety to ensure sustainability of Botswana beef exports to European Union (EU) and Norwegian markets.
Dr George Onkabetse Matlho (1965 – 2020)
Dr. Matlho was initially appointed as the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) on the 1 April 1997. He was then promoted to the General Manager position on the 5 April 2005, a position he held until his passing on the 25 September 2020.
BVI Limited, established in 1979 is a self-funding public company, wholly-owned by the Government of Botswana. The mandate of BVI is to produce quality livestock vaccines and sell the same locally and globally to combat trans-boundary animal diseases to safeguard animal trade and ensure food security. The second mandate (separate) of the Institute is to host the OIE Reference Laboratory for FMD since 1985. During his tenure as the BVI Limited General Manager, he undertook trainings and workshops like Managing Individual and Team Performance, Collective Bargaining, the FAO / OIE Global Conference on foot and mouth disease (FMD) Control, held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2012, the workshop on the OIE Procedures for the Official Recognition of Member Countries Disease Status and for the Endorsement of Official National Control Programme with regard to FMD and peste des petits ruminants (PPR).
In George, Botswana, the global community and BVI have lost a hero, a legend, an asset, who will be forever be remembered for his humility, intelligence, team work and most importantly his entrepreneurial prowess. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, mother and siblings (1 brother and 2 sisters).