22 Jun 2014 11:00am
ONGWEDIVA, 22 JUN (NAMPA) The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi on Friday launched the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services scale-up programme at Ongwediva in the Oshana Region.
In August 2009, the Health and Social Services Ministry in Namibia introduced a pilot project for the VMMC programme at the Windhoek Central Hospital and Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.
The programme has now been rolled out to all 33 district hospitals countrywide.
Kamwi said the service has now been brought closer to Namibian communities as it is offered at all district hospitals.
He noted that the benefits of circumcision are, amongst others, a reduction in the risks of HIV infection from a woman to a man by 60 per cent, lowering risks of sexually transmitted infections, especially ulcerative diseases like syphilis, and a reduction in urinary tract infections.
In 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (Unaids) made joint recommendations for WHO member states to include male circumcision in their HIV prevention packages in addition to the many concerted efforts being made to address the HIV pandemic.
The decision was informed by results of randomised control trials conducted in three sub-Saharan African countries, namely Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, which indicated that male circumcision reduces the chances of heterosexual men getting infected with HIV by up to 60 per cent, Kamwi said.
He indicated that the VMMC programme aims to have 330 128 men circumcised by the end of 2015/16.
So far, 16 341 men have been circumcised, and more than 260 health care workers have been trained to provide VMMC services as part of Namibias comprehensive HIV prevention package.
The Health and Social Services Minister noted that circumcision is one of the oldest and most common surgical procedures performed worldwide for various reasons ranging from religious and social to cultural and medical reasons.
We are aware of the fact that some Namibians continue to value circumcision as a practice, which makes it fair to say that it is not a new phenomenon in Namibia, Kamwi stated.
He then singled out the Ovahimba community of Opuwo in the Kunene Region and OvaHerero people of Gobabis in the Omaheke Region as the communities that value circumcision, saying as a result, the HIV infection rate is low in those regions.
Speaking at the same event, Unaids country director Dr Tharcisse Barihuta said scaling up the VMMC services is strategic and important for the prevention programme as it will reduce new HIV infections, particularly among men.
The event was also attended by governor Clemens Kashuupulwa of the Oshana Region.