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Few people respond to free male circumcision surgery

(Left to right). The male circumcision nurse at Mariental State Hospital, Petrina Shavuka and American Urologist volunteer from the Diplomate American Board of Urology, Dr John Karod during one of the surgical operation in the theatre at the Mariental State Hospital. (Photograph by David Adetona)After weeks of hearing about the protective effects of medical male circumcision against HIV/AIDS, a number of men in the Hardap region have failed to take advantage of a government move to provide free male circumcision surgical operation at the Mariental State Hospital.
Only about 90 patients have so far been circumcised in the last two weeks since the campaign started on Monday, 31 October. The programme ends Friday (11 November).
For the first seven days of the campaign a total of 50 patients were circumcised, 10 were done on the first day, eight people the following day, 15 patients on the third day and only one turned up on the fourth day.
“The public turnout for the campaign has been poor and disappointing despite extensive information dissemination prior to starting the operations. The number of registered or booked patient is over 200, which include those from Maltahohe, Hoachanas and Gibeon constituencies,” said Dr Samuel Lyimo, the principal medical officer at the Mariental State Hospital.
Challenges experienced so far includes: last minute drop outs, indecision on whether to accept the procedure despite counseling, and fear of the safety of the surgery despite efforts to educate the community about the whole process and its importance.
After this short campaign of two weeks, the hospital said it will continue doing male circumcisions as a routine procedure to all eligible male clients and therefore patients are still welcome for counseling, education, testing and thereafter circumcision.
“The importance of this procedure and its safety cannot be overemphasized,” Dr Lyimo said.
He added that the male circumcision procedure is safe and pain free since it is done under local anaesthesia with pain killers routinely prescribed after the operation.
As part of the procedure, patients received services that included a health check, counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, screening for sexual transmitted infections and treatment, risk reduction counseling and condom promotion.
Dr Lyimo highlighted that circumcision is one of the measures for HIV/AIDS prevention. He said studies done in other African countries have proven that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 60%.
“It also reduces the risk of infection by some other sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, the male population in the community should not fear to have the procedure done to them and or their male children since it is one of the HIV/AIDS preventive measures,” he said.
He however advised that circumcised people should still practice safe sex by using a condom if there is need to have sex.
The free male circumcision surgical operation campaign is part of efforts by the Hardap health directorate of the Ministry of Health and Social Services in conjunction with the Hardap Regional Council to enhance the fighting and prevention of the spreading of HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region.

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