Communicating one’s sexual problems to a doctor is a major difficulty for a lot of people, which is why some programs and services have been designed across the country to sensitize the public on sexual issues to ease this diffi culty. Despite all these efforts, men are still reluctant to seek help from medical practitioners for their sexual problems as compared to women; a problem that the Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) Programmes Director, Kabelo Poloko says is raising concern as it puts many lives in danger.
“A lot of men seldom come to health facilities seeking help concerning their sexual health and this threatens our fight against new sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS,” he said. He said that a lot of men have a tendency of delaying to seek medical help until the eleventh hour, where sometimes there is nothing that can be done for them because the infection has gotten to a stage where it is no longer easy to treat or untreatable. He urged people to come for STI screenings even when they have no symptoms so as to be on the safe side as he explained that there are those (STIs) that do not show any symptoms until there are at a very dangerous stage.
According to the Ministry of Health Chief Public Relations Offi cer Doreen Motshegwa, men’s reluctance to seek medical help concerning their sexual issues is a huge challenge. She noted that, “It could be due to the fact that for a long time, health education was more focused on women and children. Men are culturally expected to be strong so they brave it out for long while women easily relate their aches and pains.” She thus advised that people should always seek medical attention at the earliest possible time as some medical conditions can be completely and quickly be treated at early stages.
“Further, partners should always communicate about health issues including sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS. “We encourage couples to consistently use condoms, practice and negotiate safer sex,” said Motshegwa. During the Men Sector Executive meeting last week, the Assistant Minister of Health Gaotlhaetse matllhabaphiri concurred that STIs are indeed on the rise and said he does not see Batswana realising the ‘zero new infections’ by 2016 if things continue the way they are today. He said Syphilis, which has been eliminated in some countries, has proven to be a problem in Botswana. “While the national prevalence rate for syphilis is at 1.3
percent, some districts especially Tsabong, Hukuntsi, Tutume, Selibe Phikwe and Mabutsane have recorded high fi gures of more than the national prevalence,” he stated.
The Assistant Minister also noted that the STI control unit has been noticing an increase in the number of Urethral discharges which he said are certainly STIs until proven otherwise. “We expect partners to be treated together for STI so as to curb the spread of STI within the general population. Unfortunately, this is not the case as we only treat 13 percent of those sexual contacts. The question is where is the other 87 percent?” he asked rhetorically. According to the Department of HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care under the Ministry of Health, prevalence of HIV among STI patients is 40 to 70 percent. Approximately 457 million new cases of curable STIs occur each year globally, 72 million of which occur in sub Saharan Africa.