WINDHOEK - Over 35, 000 men have been circumcised in Khomas Region since the inception of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme in 2009.
The programme’s coverage in Khomas has increased to 45 percent among men aged 15 to 29 years old.
Research has proven that a man who is circumcised has a 60 percent reduction of acquiring HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.
Men who are circumcised also have a lower chance of acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which can cause cervical cancer in women.
“Statistically, this means that more than 1 ,000 new HIV infections have been prevented since the programme started three years ago. We celebrate this achievement today as a milestone on the march to epidemic control,” the Ambassador of the United States of America to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said on Tuesday.
The spoke at the official opening and handover of the Smart Cut Clinic, a Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision facility at the Katutura Health Center.
Funded by PEPFAR, through USAID and implemented by AIDSFree, the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme joins with the Ministry of Health and Social Services and medical aid funds to standardise tariffs for circumcision and train private health providers, the ambassador highlighted.
Circumcisions under this programme are paid for by medical aid from which private providers claim directly. But the programme also welcomes patients who do not have medical aid.
“Their circumcisions are covered by a subsidy PEPFAR provides to the private providers. Through this approach, the programme has successfully reached men who otherwise would not have benefitted from this important public health intervention,” said Johnson. These services are offered at the newly launched clinic, noted Johnson.
“Funded by PEPFAR through USAID and AIDSFree, this fully-equipped and staffed facility is a sign of America’s dedication to this important work. I hope to see continued success in this clinic to offer much needed integrated health services for men, including Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision,” the ambassador stated.
She also remarked that Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision saves lives.
“I hope you will leave here today and tell others about how important circumcision is in the fight against HIV, and about the services for all men offered here at this clinic,” Johnson said.
Khomas Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua called on men who are not circumcised to visit the clinic for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision. In addition to the ‘smart cut’ (circumcision), men visiting the clinic can get other medical services such as blood sugar testing, blood pressure assessments, STI screening including HIV testing and reproductive health counseling.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe, emphasised that in as much as there is emphasis on circumcising 80 percent of men and boys between 10 to 49 years by 2021, it should be done safely.
“We know that there are practices (traditional and others) where circumcision is done but it must be safe so we don’t have unintended consequences,” emphasised Nangombe.
Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision in the Khomas Region was rolled out in 2009, with Windhoek Central Hospital acting as a training center, and up to September 2014 it was the only site offering Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision to the public in the region with a population of over 447,636.