WINDHOEK - U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson launched the new Pepfar -funded voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programme “Safe VMMC” in Namibia a programme that will cost the US aid agency a whopping N$497 140 000 over a five-year period.
Speaking at the official launch in Windhoek last week, Johnson highlighted the importance of availing funds to this project.
“The risk of circumcised men contracting HIV is 60 percent lower in comparison to non-circumcised men. And a reduction of new infections in men also means women will have a reduced risk of being infected with HIV/Aids by their partners,” stated Johnson.
She further stated the more men get circumcised, the lower the risk of spreading the virus.
“The significance of VMMC as a critical component for breaking the cycle of HIV infection cannot be overstated,” outlined Johnson.
Namibia is nearing HIV epidemic control as per the Unaids 95-95-95 goals: It is estimated that currently 94 percent of all HIV-positive Namibians know their status, 96 percent of those who know they are positive are on antiretroviral treatment, and of those on treatment, 95 percent have reduced the viral load in their blood to an undetectable level - which means they can’t transmit the virus.
At the same event, Executive Director at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe stated that VMMC is a proven biomedical intervention of HIV prevention and it is part of the ministry’s combination prevention strategy. “The Scaling Up Access for Expanded Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, Safe Project is building on the work of the health ministry and the support of the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief to move Namibia towards an Aids-free generation,” said Nangombe.
The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative – a comprehensive approach to combating HIV/Aids around the world. In Namibia, Pepfar is led by the U.S. Ambassador and programmed by an inter-agency management team that includes the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Peace Corps.
At the same event, Nangombe and Johnson unveiled and handed over a 50 litre autoclave machine to the value of N$90 000 to the Khomas region as the first step that Safe VMMC activity undertakes to improve the quality of VMMC service offering.
The autoclave is used to sterilize surgical instruments used for circumcision procedures but will also be used for other procedures in district hospitals for overall elevation of health standards. Usaid further announced that 10 more autoclaves will be purchased and distributed to other VMMC priority regions in the country.