Young people, aged from 10 – 24 years, comprise 38.9 percent, of Botswana’s 1.8 million population. This current cohort is the largest group of young people entering adulthood in Botswana’s history. However, because of the devastation caused by HIV and AIDS, Botswana’s population is declining. It is projected that in 2025, there will be 37% young people, in the same age group (ages 10 to 24) in the country.
Young people in Botswana, especially young women, face many challenges relating to their sexual and reproductive health. These include, experiencing high rates of maternal mortality, increased risk of violence and HIV (due to widespread alcohol abuse), and the second highest HIV prevalence of any nation. Youth-inclusive, science-based programs have the potential to empower young people with sexual health information, life skills, and services that they need, to meet their sexual and reproductive health needs.
Australia Awards – Africa Alumnus Tshiamo Keakabetse, from Botswana, is using his skills and knowledge he to contribute fighting the current HIV and AIDS crises facing the country. Tshiamo gained a Masters of Public Health, at the University of Melbourne in 2012.
During his study period in Australia, Tshiamo gained increased knowledge in: global health policy, research and evaluation, sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, newborn and child health, family planning, adolescent reproductive health and rights, HIV/AIDS, and gender integration. He attributes these courses as having provided him with relevant and practical skills that assist him in his professional work as a Public Health Officer at the Ministry of Health.
Tshiamo’s work entails coordinating maternal and newborn health, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and program audits. In addition, he works with young people that are HIV-positive, either through birth or early contraction and survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV). With regards to his youth focused programs, Tshiamo says “I provide skill-based training and empowerment workshops for survivors of GBV and their children, with an emphasis on providing contextual, individualized, and practical solutions to ending GBV.” Tshiamo also provides leadership skills training as well as sexual and reproductive health training to young people infected by HIV.
Tshiamo has represented the government of Botswana at different professional fora, both regionally and internationally, on various issues relating to reproductive health. He has also received various prestigious awards, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship. In addition to his work at the Ministry of Health, he currently serves as a technical advisor to international organizations like the UN (UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO), Venture Strategies Innovations and University Research Corporation.
Click below to hear Tshiamo speak on his experience and work: