300,000 males targeted for circumcision

By Paulina Ndalikokule

THE Ministry of Health and Social Services with the support of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) plans to have about 300,000 men and boys circumcised by 2021.

Health Ministry executive director Ben Nangombe made the remarks at the launch of the scalping up access to expand voluntary medical male circumcision services in Windhoek recently.

In September the ministry reached 150,000 men and boys with life-saving circumcision services, Nangombe said.

“Today we are launching the next phase in the goal to reach 300,000 males by the year 2021 with an ambitious five-year programme to reach an additional 250,000 men by 2024,” he said, adding that the programme would deal with challenges in urban areas and requires “innovative demand creation activities” to reach people who are not circumcised yet.

Nangombe said the project should also bring safe high quality Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services with innovations, such as mobile outreach programmes and use resources to ensure that the highest number of men is reached. “There is need to begin early infant male circumcision services, so in future the need VMMC services will not be an issue,” Nangombe said.

U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson announced that the US government would provide close to half a billion Namibian dollars over the next five years towards the project to provide comprehensive VMMC services to Namibian boys and men over 10 years.

“Our goal is to support the Ministry of Health in reaching as many Namibian men as possible to achieve another major step on the path to HIV epidemic control,” Johnson said.

Namibian musician and VMMC ambassador Martin Mbwalu, known as King Tee Dee or The Dogg, said although it took him a while to decide to get circumcised, it has proven to have many benefits that many males need to know about. “It reduces the risk of sexual transmission of HIV-AIDS from women to men by 60 percent and protects against Sexual Transmitted Infections,” Mbwalu said.

He added that circumcision does not completely protect one from getting infected. There is still a need to use other preventive measures, even if one is circumcised.

The U.S. government also donated four autoclave machines, with one to be used in Khomas, another in Omusati and two to be used in Hardap region. The machines will be used to carry out industrial and scientific processes requiring elevated temperature and pressure. Autoclaves are used in medical devices to perform sterilisation and in the chemical industry to cure coatings and vulcanise rubber and for hydrothermal synthesis.

The U.S. plans to donate a further 10 autoclaves next year for use in the remaining regions.