TSUMEB –The #Doitwithafriend social media campaign, an initiative to encourage men to get circumcised, started in Tsumeb with two young men who were circumcised on Friday.
Nineteen-year-old Manfred Hailumbi and his friend Nangolo Twalukeni, who were initially afraid of getting the “smartcut” despite acknowledging that there were health benefits for circumcised men, were eventually circumcised at the Tsumeb Private Hospital.
Hailumbi, who encouraged his friends to be circumcised together with him on the same day, said it took him about one year to make up his mind on the procedure. On Friday, Twalukeni was the only friend of Hailumbi, who decided to go ahead with the procedure.
“I just want to protect myself against diseases. When you have skin, it’s always dirty,” said Hailumbi, adding that the procedure was not what he had anticipated. “The first injection felt like a mosquito bite,” he laughed. But, he was also afraid when he saw the needles.
Hailumbi and Twalukeni posted videos of their experiences and would be posting videos of their six-week healing chronicles on the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) Namibia social media platforms, including Facebook. The AIDSFree Namibia Health Communication Advisor, Manini Kandume, explained that some men are afraid of getting the “smartcut” alone.
The videos will be published as raw as possible in the sense that the men will share their “smartcut” experiences in order to encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
VMMC is a biomedical intervention in HIV prevention and is part of the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ combination prevention strategy. The aim of the national strategy is to reach 80 percent (or 300,000) men and boys between the ages of 10-49 with VMMC services by 2021.
Private patients who want to get the smart cut are not excluded from VMMC services. These services have been available to the general public in priority regions, including Khomas and the four northern regions for the past four years.
Kandume explained that the aim of the #Doitwithafriend campaign is to tell men that it is fine to have the procedure done with friends, as long as they are comfortable. Men could have the procedure done with their partners in the room, said Kandume.
“We want to put a face to the journey and make it believable,” added Kandume.
Dr Shadreck Sibanda of Tsumeb Private Hospital circumcised Hailumbi and Twalukeni.
“People think it’s a winter thing but it can be done anytime,” said Sibanda, who joined the VMMC in 2010.
The fear of pain and the waiting period of six weeks before engaging in sexual activities are contributing to men’s reluctance to embrace the procedure, explained Sibanda.
The VMMC programme is in demand by the school-going boys and young men, revealed Sibanda. However, there is a gap in 25 to 40-year-old men. These men also generally shy away from seeking health services.
In October, 389 circumcisions were done at the Tsumeb private hospital, added Sibanda. The majority of these were school boys, who are circumcised every Friday. This is to give them time to heal over the weekend, Sibanda explained.
Occasionally, Sibanda and his team of nurses and a community mobilisers do outreach activities where men are circumcised in their settings. This may include schools or far-to-reach communities, explained Sibanda.
“We have capacity to do outreach. It’s good for the people. We are willing to go out, especially to schools. At the moment, there is demand,” added the doctor.
“Most of them recover well.” But, the “community doctors” sometimes make it difficult for some people to recover quickly after the procedure, said Sibanda about the healing process.
Because of their previous experience with traditional circumcisions, they do not adhere to the doctors’ instructions to care for the wound.
“They go there and put their traditional things,” remarked Sibanda. Just recently, a boy’s penis had to be treated after undergoing the VMMC procedure. The mother of the boy insisted that the wound had to be cleaned with vinegar in order to heal faster. Others reportedly use sugar and cow dung, New Era learnt.
“The biggest problem we have is our community doctors. We trust community doctors more than conventional doctors,” emphasised Sibanda.
The disadvantages of traditional circumcision are the complications that may arise, said the doctor. The whole penis can be cut off or it may be partially circumcised. “Sometimes there is no clear demarcation between the penis,” Sibanda explained. But he said he had also come across some people who were “professionally” circumcised the traditional way. “The biggest problems with traditional circumcision is bleeding and infection,” Sibanda stated. Some infections result when people are not honest about other pre-existing conditions such as sexually transmitted infections and diabetes, explained Johannes Haufiku of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Meanwhile, 52-year-old Frederick Oaseb has been going into the Tsumeb communities urging boys and men to consider the “smartcut”. It started after he underwent the procedure early this year.
“I brought my son and I saw that it was not very painful. So, I also decided to come. One of the benefits is that it does not smell. I am diabetic and I was hesitant about the healing process but I healed very fast,” he told New Era.
The children act as ambassadors, added Sibanda.
2018-11-19 09:48:23 9 months ago