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The Dogg Vows to “Get the Smart Cut”

The Dogg performs to a crowd in Katima Mulilo, Namibia.
The Dogg performs to a crowd in Katima Mulilo, Namibia.
The Dogg plans to set an example by getting circumcised this month.
The Dogg plans to set an example by getting circumcised next month.

Namibian newspaper New Era reported today that hip hop artist The Dogg (real name Martin Morocky) has agreed to be circumcised next month by Dr. Bernard Haufiku, Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Services, as part of the country’s voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) program. The procedure is to take place on Minister Haufiku’s birthday, Sept. 19.

The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), with PEPFAR funding, has supported the VMMC efforts of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) in the Oshana and Zambezi regions on many fronts. Between 2010 and 2014, I-TECH supported health care worker training in the provision of VMMC nationwide and has supported the delivery of VMMC procedures since November 2014. Since the start of this year, I-TECH has also been engaged in critical efforts to create demand for the procedure.

Marocky, who lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS, was previously involved in the MOHSS’s “Break the Chain” campaign to reduce concurrent sexual partnerships in Namibia. He’s been a VMMC ambassador since May 2016, serving as the face behind a nationwide concert and social media campaign urging 15- to 49-year-old men to “get the smart cut.”

The Dogg shares the message of HIV prevention with a school in Katima Mulilo.
The Dogg shares the message of HIV prevention with a school in Katima Mulilo.

So far, Marocky has held nine concerts in the Erongo, Oshana, and Zambezi regions, as well as delivered encouragement to young men through radio talk shows and TV advertisements. He has also spoken one-on-one to young men about the preventive benefits of VMMC — namely, that the procedure can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 60%.

“I’ve encouraged ‘the smart cut’ through my music and appearances,” said Marocky. “But I’m now looking forward to protecting myself and setting a personal example for young Namibian men.”

The musician will join the more than 11,200 men in Oshana who have undergone a VMMC since 2009. More than 80% of the 12,250-plus procedures performed with I-TECH support since January 2015 are in the high-priority 15- to 29-year-old age group.

Currently, only about a quarter of Namibian men are circumcised. Overcoming cultural hurdles and mobilizing men to get the procedure has become a high priority for the MOHSS.

“Training clinicians in the procedure is only half the battle,” said I-TECH Namibia Country Director Norbert Forster. “Getting the word out to young men about the benefits of VMMC is crucial to ensuring the success of this intervention. The Dogg’s campaign has gone a long way toward changing minds and attitudes.”

The MOHSS and I-TECH are jointly engaging in a number of additional demand generation activities, which mainly focus on school-aged boys and young working men. One such activity, a bicycle lottery, is highlighted below.

Community Members Win Bicycle Lottery After Volunteering for VMMC

The MOHSS, with the support of I-TECH, has awarded the first two winners of new bicycles in a lottery held at Katima Mulilo State Hospital in the Zambezi Region.

The lottery was implemented to encourage more men to come in for VMMC; Zambezi remains the region most affected by HIV/AIDS in Namibia.

The first winner is an NDF soldier. His winning ticket was drawn out of the first group of men who were circumcised between March 1 and April 30, 2016, in the Zambezi region. The second winner, drawn from the May to July cohort, was a 16-year-old attending Mavuluma Senior Secondary School, a remote school in eastern Zambezi region.

During June of this year, the MOHSS Zambezi region team managed to mobilize and circumcise a total of 773 men as part of its I-TECH-supported VMMC program. The vast majority of recipients were between 15 and 29 years of age.

This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under U91HA06801, the International AIDS Education and Training Center (IAETC). The content of this post is the author’s and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

Faculty Partnerships with University of Namibia Lead to Strengthened School of Public Health

UNAM School of Nursing Science and Public Health

UNAM School of Nursing Science and Public Health

Despite a decrease in the estimated annual HIV/AIDS incidence since 2001, HIV/AIDS remains a significant source of morbidity and mortality in Namibia.[1]

In 2008, the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) at the University of Washington (UW) was invited to conduct a rapid assessment of the University of Namibia (UNAM) master’s degree program in public health, with the goal of identifying ways to strengthen UNAM’s School of Nursing Science and Public Health. Dr. Virginia Gonzales, Senior Lecturer in the UW’s Department of Global Health and Senior Technical Specialist with I-TECH, led that study along with Lee Pyne-Mercier, UW Affiliate Instructor and former I-TECH Country Program Manager.

New award based on study findings

Recommendations included the suggestion that UNAM attract lecturers from outside the university to strengthen teaching in subjects such as research methods, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Based on these and other findings from the assessment, UNAM and UW/I-TECH submitted a joint application to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and were awarded a five-year cooperative agreement in 2010, with Dr. Ann Downer, Executive Director of I-TECH, serving as principal investigator.

The goal of the agreement was to improve and enhance the UNAM School of Nursing Science and Public Health. Objectives for this project included:

  • Plan for sustainability and transfer of resources to UNAM.
  • Strengthen professional development and faculty support at UNAM.
  • Strengthen content and delivery of the MPH program at UNAM.
  • Improve research capacity and output of lecturers and students at UNAM.
  • Strengthen institutional capacity and infrastructure for teaching public health at UNAM.

With this new award, I-TECH/UW and UNAM embarked upon a series of faculty partnerships. The group also began to explore how to separate the UNAM School of Nursing Science and Public Health into two programs, creating both a School of Nursing and a School of Public Health. The UNAM Senate issued a proclamation in 2014 that this would occur.

“The focus of curriculum [in the new School of Public Health] will be needs-driven,” says Dr. Käthe Hofnie Hoëbes, Associate Dean of the UNAM School of Nursing Science and Public Health, “and it will support new job growth in Namibia, as it promotes the creation of new cadres of public health specialization.”

From partnership comes growth

Retreat with UW and UNAM faculty, 2009

Retreat with UW and UNAM faculty, 2009

The CDC award has now come to an end; however, through this project, UW and UNAM created 16 strong faculty partnerships, all determined by the priorities of the UNAM faculty through a Public Health Working Group (PHWG).

“The benefit of working with the PHWG was one of the key takeaways from this project,” says Dr. Gonzales. “It ensured that UNAM was in the position to offer continual input, guide project activities, and truly lead the project.”

The faculty partnerships occurred in health policy, bioethics, nutrition, research, environmental health, and epidemiology, linking interested faculty at UW and UNAM. Through these relationships, UW faculty visited the main UNAM campus in Windhoek to facilitate workshops and review curriculum, and the UNAM faculty visited UW to observe classes and work on curriculum revision.

As a result of the trust among faculty at both universities, partnerships evolved in unexpected areas as well, including social work, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, teaching technologies, and with the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services’ (MOHSS) Primary Health Care Program.

“Working in partnership was a cross fertilizing, fulfilling and enriching exercise for all of us who were involved,” says Magdaleena Nghatanga, former Director of the Directorate of Primary Health Care, MOHSS. “Across the ocean we shared experiences and professional expertise. Utilizing technology such as Skype, Dropbox, and e-learning helped the team in developing and revising the curriculum, as well as in building and improving teaching at the university level. As a result, the Primary Health Care Program and curriculum were revised and updated, and the students were thrilled with the new lectures.”

Outcomes echo throughout the country

Leaders in Health--Namibia! working group, 2010

Leaders in Health–Namibia! working group, 2010

The collaboration also focused attention on teaching skills, and evaluations of faculty by students at UNAM improved considerably. In addition, UNAM graduates reported improved skills and knowledge in HIV/AIDS, nutrition, health policy, epidimiology, and research and increased knowledge of and interest in public health. Thesis supervisors at UNAM reported greater skills in supervision and student mentoring, and UNAM lecturers reported increased knowledge, skills, and confidence in teaching course materials.[2]

The workshops offered on learning theory and teaching skills were later scaled to all of UNAM, including remote campuses. Several faculty also participated in the Leaders in Health – Namibia! (LIH) program that was designed by I-TECH/UW in collaboration with the MOHSS in order to strengthen the health care delivery system in Namibia through effective mentoring of health leaders and managers. The UNAM faculty who participated in LIH later improved course content on leadership and management at UNAM by using material and content from LIH.

“This partnership has yielded benefits on many fronts,” says Dean Hofnie Hoëbes. “Lines of collaboration have been initiated with other world-class universities, and technical support was provided for the roadmap for establishing a standalone School of Public Health. This will benefit the nation as a whole by supporting public health care in the country and preparing a larger, professional workforce with specialized skills to address shortages in public health practitioners in Namibia.”


[1] Namibia Global Health Initiative, 2011-2015/16.

[2] University of Namibia and I-TECH Namibia. Evaluation of the Impact of the UNAM/I-TECH Collaboration upon the Master of Public Health Program, 2009-2012. 2013.

I-TECH Presents at AIDS 2014 in Melbourne


On July 20-25, the biennial International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014, will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Gabrielle O’Malley, I-TECH’s Director of Implementation Science, is heading down under to present two posters:

  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Patient Education and Empowerment to Improve Patient-Provider Interactions at ART Clinics in Namibia, lead authored by Dr. Ellen MacLachlan, I-TECH Senior Research and Publications Advisor
  • “If I Take My Medicine, I Will Be Strong”: Evaluation of an Innovative Pediatric HIV Disclosure Intervention in Namibia, lead authored by Dr. O’Malley

For full versions of these posters, contact Anne Fox, Communications Officer, at

As always, the conference is a tremendous opportunity for those working in the field of HIV, policy makers, civil society, and persons living with HIV to share perspectives and knowledge — with a focus on the diversity of response in the Asia Pacific region.

The theme of AIDS 2014 is “Stepping Up the Pace,” and speakers including former President Bill Clinton; new U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx; and Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, will examine scientific developments, human rights, and lessons learned in the effort to map our next steps in the fight against the pandemic.

Read more about the conference — as well as the 2012 Melbourne Declaration in support of human rights in the march toward an AIDS-free generation — at