27 Jul 2013 12:10
By Paulus Shiku
KEETMANSHOOP, 27 JUL (NAMPA) Fourty-four males aged from six to 52 years were circumcised during a week-long circumcision campaign at the Keetmanshoop State Hospital in June.
Statistics obtained from the Principal Medical Officer (PMO) at Keetmanshoop hospital Mehluli Ndlovu indicate that the figure (44) is less compared to 90 males operated on during the first two-week campaign last year.
All patients were operated on successfully with no adverse effects. Circumcision, which involves the cutting off of the male foreskin on the penis, reduces HIV transmission from a woman to a man by 60 per cent, but it must be emphasised that it is not a substitute for condom use.
There has been a poor uptake by the Keetmanshoop community for various reasons, including cultural, traditional, ignorance and fear, Ndlovu told Nampa on Friday.
He added that the Ministry of Health and Social Service (MoHSS) is encouraging eligible males to undergo safe medical male circumcision as part of its long-term strategy to prevent new HIV infections, and ultimately create an HIV-free generation.
The week-long campaign was only meant to boost the programme but all men are still welcome to come to the hospital anytime to book an operation appointment date. They will also be offered counseling and given age-appropriate health information on male sexual and reproductive health issues, said the PMO.
Circumcisions are done by qualified health practitioners in order to ensure a clean and risk-free operation and healing process, but is also done by traditional doctors for purposes of cleanliness, as graduation from boyhood to manhood, and as an identification mark for some tribes.
The practice is common among males in Namibia, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, among others.
In Namibia, traditional circumcision is practiced by among others the OvaHerero, OvaNdongona, OvaHimba, and some Angolan tribes such as the OvaMwila, OvaZemba, OvaNkumbi, OvaTjimba of whom some emigrated to Namibia.
A middle-aged OvaZemba/OvaNdongona man who was circumcised the traditional way, explained to this reporter that during the healing process, males are not allowed to be seen by anybody and kept at an isolated place until their wounds heal completely.
If by any chance a person wonders in that isolated place, he or she can be killed, because during that process circumcised men has total immunity from arrest and prosecution by the traditional court, said the source who asked for his name not to mentioned.
They are also free to kill cows, goats and other animals for food without the owners' consent.
In his tribe it is regarded as a taboo for a man to have a foreskin, as he will be humiliated and neglected, and people will disassociate themselves from him and call him bad names.
Some females from his tribe refuse to date uncircumcised men, and even with civilisation, some women in Namibia still refuse to sleep with uncircumcised men.