In 2011 Botswana through the Ministry of Health adopted Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) as an additional HIV prevention method complementing the already existing initiatives.
Isaac Rasesia, a Safety, Health and Education Officer (SHE) officer at Estate Construction Limited in Molepolole embraced the program after his wife encouraged him to go for safe male circumcision.
Last year after Estate Construction was engaged to construct Molepolole bus rank he was at the forefront to ensure that he pushes the safe male circumcision among his colleagues as a way of fighting HIV/AIDS. According to the 2006 The Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, AIDS can affect the size of the labor force due to sick leaves, the availability of skills and productivity. “The workforce is affected in several ways. As workers become sick, their productivity falls, due to time taken off for sick leave and reduced ability to perform while at work. Absenteeism is increased, making it more difficult to maintain production levels,” reads the report.
“When a nurse came to their workplace offering the new, non-surgical method of safe male circumcision called Pre-Pex, I did not hesitate to enroll in the program,” says Rasesia.
He said that he encouraged his fellow workers to also go for non-surgical method of safe male circumcision as he knew that some of them will be exposed to the HIV infection due to the activities at the construction site.
The SHE officer said although circumcision is one of the oldest and commonest surgical procedures among Batswana, but was long stopped, it was difficult to convince his fellow workers to circumcise. “I engage the District Health Management Team (DHMT) officers at Scottish Memorial Hospital to conduct some education during the tool box talks which we hold every Tuesday,” he said adding that it started to bear some fruits.
Last year he managed to convince 25 of his workmates to enroll into the program and this motivated others to follow suit. During March, Rasesia reveals that seven men have been enrolled into the Pre-Pex method and noted that he also ensures that they go for their checkup visits.
The Molepolole born SHE officer who recently was honored by being chosen as one of the 12 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Heroes said that his objective is to ensure that perception changes regarding construction workers especially when it comes to issues of HIV/AIDS.
Rasesia said while SMC cannot prevent one from being infected by HIV it is reduces the infection by 50-60% and insist on informing his co-workers to use condoms during sex.
He acknowledged that as construction workers they move from one place to another and as such they are one of the most vulnerable groups that need special attention. Another area of concern for Rasesia is the use of alcohol by construction workers which he said has a direct impact on the spread of HIV and reasoned that alcohol abuse is one of the topical issues always on their agenda.