Sheila Tlou – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroBotswana politician, health specialist and nurse
Is Nurse 
From Botswana 
Type Academia 
Politics Botswana Democratic Party
Columbia University
Teachers College
University of Illinois at Chicago
Florence Nightingale Medal2003

Sheila Dinotshe Tlou is a Botswana nurse, specialist in HIV/AIDS and women’s health, and a nursing educator. She was Minister of Health from 2004 to 2008.

Education and career

Tlou graduated from Dillard University in 1974. In 2014 she was awarded an Honorary degree by her alma mater. Tlou studied at Teachers College, Columbia University, U.S., obtaining an M.A. in Education (concentrating in Curriculum and Instruction in the Health Sciences). She took her PhD in community health nursing and a diploma in gender issues, at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990.
She has taught at the University of Botswana from 1980. From 1994 to 1996 she was head of Nursing Education, becoming an associate professor in 1999, and 2002–04 she was the university’s HIV/AIDS coordinator.

Tlou represented Botswana at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 2002 she was appointed to a special UN task force on girls, women, and HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. she has also provided consultancy to UNAIDS, the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the World Health Organization. She took part in the international community educator meetings for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Tlou is married to Botswana historian Professor Thomas Tlou.

She has portrayed Precious Ramotswe, the heroine of Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book series, in amateur theater productions, and at one time was mentioned in media reports as a possible choice to portray Mma Ramotswe in the Hollywood film adaptation currently in production.

Following the October 2004 general election, Tlou was appointed as Minister of Health on November 9, 2004. After being defeated in primary elections of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in Palapye, Tlou was dismissed from the Cabinet on April 1, 2008, when Ian Khama took office as President.

HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment

Much of Tlou’s work focuses on gender issues and HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. Enabling women, particularly married women, in a patriarchal society to negotiate with their partner for safe sex has major consequences for HIV transmission. Tlou has worked with grassroots women’s organisations and national campaigns to increase AIDS awareness in Botswana. She has also done a great deal of work in reducing the stigma of AIDS and helping HIV positive people cope with their lives.


  • May 2002 Anna Reynvaan prize, and gave prize lecture (Netherlands)
  • September 2002 Presidential Order of Honour (Botswana)
  • 2003 Florence Nightingale Medal (International Committee of the Red Cross)


Tlou is a co-editor of the comprehensive reference book for people working in the field of HIV/AIDS in Africa:

  • Tlou, Sheila; Essex, Myron; Mboup, Souleymane; Kanki, Phyllis J.; Marlink, Richard G. (2002). AIDS in Africa. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. ISBN 9780306466991.

Selected other works:

  • Tlou, Sheila; Norr, K.; Norr, J. (1993), “The threat of AIDS for women in developing countries”, in Lashley, Felissa R.; Durham, Jerry D. (eds.), Women, children, and HIV/AIDS, New York: Springer, ISBN 9780826178800.
  • Tlou, Sheila D.; Norr, K.F.; McElmurry, B.J.; Moeti, M. (November–December 1992). “AIDS prevention for women: a community-based approach”. Nursing Outlook. 40 (6): 250–256. PMID 1461755.
  • Tlou, Sheila D.; et al. (1997). Poverty and plenty: the Botswana experience: proceedings of a symposium. Gaborone, Botswana: The Society. ISBN 9789991260365.
  • Tlou, Sheila D. (1997), “Women & AIDS in Southern Africa”, in European Commission, Directorate-General for Development (ed.), European Union – Southern African Development Community Conference on HIV/AIDS: proposal for regional action, Malawi, December 4-6 1996, Malawi: European Commission, OCLC 847302580
  • Tlou, Sheila; Ingstad, Benedicte; Bruuns, Frank J. (December 1997). “Aids and the elderly Tswana: The concept of pollution and consequences for AIDS prevention”. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. 12 (4): 357–372. doi:10.1023/A:1006501414850.
  • Tlou, Sheila (2001), “Communication strategy for the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in Botswana”, in Zichichi, Antonino (ed.), Nuclear war and planetary emergencies, Singapore London: World Scientific Press.
  • Tlou, Sheila; et al. (November 2001). “Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV-1: Meeting of World Federation of Scientists in Erice, Italy, August 2001. Joint Working Group Report of AIDS and Infectious Diseases PMP, and Mother and Child Health PMP”. Acta Paediatrica. 90 (11): 1337–1339. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2001.tb01585.x.
  • Tlou, Sheila; Lindsey, Elizabeth; Hirschfeld, Miriam (May–June 2003). “Home-based care in Botswana: Experiences of older women and young girls”. Health Care for Women International. 24 (6): 486–501. doi:10.1080/07399330390199384. PMID 12851169.