The Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) schools’ campaign is in full swing with 2012 Olympic 800m silver medalist Nijel Amos Population Services International Botswana (PSI/B), as they visit different schools.

PSI are the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) demand creation implementing partner and in this campaign they will be informing students about SMC and encouraging them to circumcise during the upcoming school holiday.

The MOH-led SMC school campaign, which the MOH is leading in multiple locations across the country in November and December, is focused on encouraging male students between 13 and 19 years of age to seek SMC services during the school holidays.

Through school presentations, as well as additional community events that will occur during the campaign, students, parents, and teachers will be provided with accurate and detailed information about the benefits of SMC – such as partial protection against HIV, improved hygiene, reduced cervical and penile cancer – as well as information about the procedure itself and what to expect during and after SMC.

By motivating significant numbers of young men to seek SMC services, organizers hope the initiative could help the tide of HIV incidence in Botswana and contribute to achieving the national goal of circumcising 80% of males by 2016.

For his part, Amos, aged 18, said he is excited and delighted to be part of this good cause, and believes that youth need to be targeted with interventions that are in line with their own expectations for their health and their future.“Having been circumcised myself, and as a patriotic citizen of this country, I feel it’s upon us as a nation of Botswana to contribute in any way possible in the fight against HIV.

I saw it fit to talk to my peers in schools to encourage and motivate them to embrace this opportunity to invest in their sexual health.

As young people we need to protect ourselves as we are the future of this country, so our leadership and responsibility start today by getting circumcised.”

PSI Botswana’s Executive Director Richard Harrison commended Amos for lending his support and leading by example in the fight against HIV and AIDS through this initiative.

He is optimistic that through Amos’ voice, young men will seize this opportunity to get circumcised this holiday season.

“High-achievers and role models like Nijel help us communicate at the same level as young people, using words and ideas that they can relate to in a powerful way.

Thanks to his tremendous achievements, Batswana youth look up to Nijel, and his words of support and encouragement will resonate loudly,” said Harrison.

He further noted that Amos will be accompanied by an SMC Interpersonal Communications team during his visits, to provide additional information and address any issues and concerns raised by the participants.

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