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Health ministry, Pepfar circumcise 150 000 men

2019-06-24  Staff Report 2

Health ministry, Pepfar circumcise 150 000 men

Paheja Siririka

WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Health and Social Services together with the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) have circumcised 150 000 male Namibians since 2009. This milestone was celebrated last Thursday. 

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) is a crucial intervention in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic as it reduces infections in men by 60 percent. At the same occasion, the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) also donated tents and other VMMC outreach equipment valued at N$280 000, which was handed over to the health ministry by U.S Ambassador Lisa Johnson.

“With these equipment, health workers will be able to go and stay in the areas where there is no other accommodation in order to access remote, rural communities. Health workers are at the forefront of Namibian’s HIV response. They devote their lives to a noble cause,” highlighted Johnson on the crucial role of field workers. 

Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula thanked the U.S government for its continued support. 

“The camping equipment that we received from Usaid were identified by AIDSFree as a solution to close the distance and service gap in the rural areas. It will go a long way in ensuring that outreach teams provide services on demand in the community, including compulsory follow-ups with clients, reducing the number of visits and the chance of adverse events. It will also enable VMMC providers to continue setting safe and uncompromised standards,” said the health minister. 

According to the 2017, Namphia survey, the prevalence of VMMC among males aged 15-64 in Namibia is at 36.4 percent. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that at least 80 percent of men aged between 15 and 49 should be medically circumcised to achieve a significant impact on HIV infection on a national level. 

This is why “the country intends to provide circumcision services to a further 150 000 men by the end of 2020,” said Shangula. This ambitious target is in line with Pepefar’s Impact Action Agenda. 
Johnson emphasised that Namibia is doing well with regards to the Unaids 90-90-90 goals and that with the help of the VMMC, the country may soon reach HIV epidemic control. 

However, the ambassador also cautioned: “I would like to reiterate that VMMC is only one of many interventions in the HIV prevention toolbox. Others are pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP and condoms. Circumcision does not substitute for a condom, which if used correctly, provides the best protection, as a condom will also prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).” 

Pepfar is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative, a comprehensive approach to combatting HIV/AIDS around the world. Pepfar employs the most diverse prevention, treatment and care strategy in the world, with an emphasis on transparency and accountability for results. 

2019-06-24  Staff Report 2

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