Major General Otisitswe Tiroyaone has lamented the fact that despite the formation of Men sector and Botswana’s institutionalization of male involvement in HIV/Aids and Sexual Reproductive Health, men continued to abrogate individual health responsibilities.
Speaking at a two day health fair held by Men Sector Francistown last week, Major General Tiroyaone said that there are daily reports of regrettable atrocious acts committed by irresponsible men.
“It is not in our culture to engage in barbaric acts of violence against women and our female children. As men we must jealously protect our culture and the good norms that include looking after and caring for our children,” he said.
He further projected concern that while Francistown is one of the areas badly hit by HIV, men seem to be less proactive in combating the scourge.
A BIAC report indicates that the prevalence rate in Francistown stands at 24.6 percent. An NAC report also states that in Francistown 7,602 males undertook an HIV test and 1187 tested positive. Comparatively, 11816 females took the test and 2459 tested positive within the same period.
“This is an indication that we must now focus on behavior change. We need to embark and realign on strategies upon behavioral change in a new way. We need to look deeper in our souls and address HIV and Aids issues by changing our sexually-related attitudes,” said Tiroyaone.
He also pointed out that for Men Sector to succeed as an umbrella body for all entities that deal with issues of men and HIV/Aids, men need to set aside their differences and focus on the mammoth task that lies ahead.
“The government of Botswana has introduced a number of prevention programmes to mitigate the impact of the epidemic. As men, we need to intensify our efforts in these programmes as success comes from sustained and comprehensive approaches on prevention, treatment and impact mitigation,” he said.
Tiroyaone urged the newly formed Men Sector subcommittee to approach the satellite farms and mining industries and establish collaboration with them as this would assist people in farms to access information, education and access all government initiatives.
He recommended Male Circumcision as one of the ways of curbing the disease when it is done in licensed and hygienic health facilities.
“NACA is, therefore, working on guidelines and procedures that will start an initiative to promote male circumcision. This will, however, be another measure to reduce infection rates and the onus will lie on us men to embrace this strategy and drive the Safe Male Circumcision Program (SMCP),” he added.
Men Sector was established nine years ago to educate men to practice best strategies to significantly reduce the prevalence of HIV in Botswana. The sector was also formed to ensure that the male population in Botswana is fully involved in carrying out activities that are aimed at reducing the spread of the disease, and in taking part in the care of the affected and infected.