Very few men circumcised in the Oshana Region

ONGWEDIVA: Oshana regional governor Clemens Kashuupulwa says a total of 289 men have been circumcised in his region since the inception of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) service in Namibia in 2009.

Kashuupulwa said this during the official launch of the VMMC scale-up services by Health and Social Services Minister Dr Richard Kamwi at Ongwediva on Friday.

He noted that this figure is very low when compared to the 30 000 men expected to undergo VMMC in the region by 2016.

In addition to the many concerted efforts being made to address the HIV epidemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (Unaids) in 2007 made joint recommendations for WHO member states to include male circumcision in their HIV prevention packages.

In August 2009, the Health and Social Services Ministry in Namibia introduced a pilot project for the VMMC programme at the Windhoek Central Hospital and Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.

The programme has now been rolled out to all 33 district hospitals in Namibia. A total 16 341 men have so far been circumcised countrywide, and over 260 health care workers have been trained to provide VMMC services as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package.

The Health and Social Services Ministry has set the target for VMMC at 330 128 men to be circumcised by the end of 2015/16.

Kashuupulwa noted that VMMC is a national programme that needs to be understood as a part of the country’s HIV prevention strategy and it should be implemented by both men and women.

The governor called on women to become part of the VMMC programme implementation by encouraging their partners to have themselves circumcised.

Addressing those who attended the official launch, Kamwi pointed out that VMMC reduces the risk of HIV infection from a woman to a man by 60 per cent.

The Health and Social Services Ministry prioritised the Oshana and Zambezi regions in the implementation of the VMMC programme, as the two regions are associated with a high rate of HIV infections.