Zimbabwe Circumcision Programme Safest In The Region

HARARE – Zimbabwe has the safest Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) programme among the 13 countries undergoing the programme in the region, with just one percent or less adverse events recorded in the last five years, a Ministry of Health and Child Care official revealed Wednesday.

Sinokhuthemba Xaba, the VMMC Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care told journalists attending a media forum in Harare that country had achieved much better than the acceptable World Health Organisation (WHO) limits of three percent.

“In terms of injuries, Zimbabwe has the safest programme among the 13 countries,with extremely low adverse events. The acceptable limit for the WHO is three percent, but ours has been one or less percent, which is a very good profile record as a country,” he said.

 

Xaba said the country had managed, as of last year, to circumcise more than 600,000 males, which was over 50 percent of the targeted one million people.

 

He said the first three years from 2009 were pilot programmes, adding that the country was keeping pace with other countries with which they celebrated reaching the 50 percent target at the ISCASA Conference held in Harare last December.

 

Mashonaland West , Manicaland and Midlands provinces had the highest number of circumcisions, while major urban settings had the least contributions.

 

“We are scaling up this year and hope to have circumcised 80 percent by 2017 and we hope that 212,000 new infections could be avoided because of circumcision and HIV prevalence will actually come down to about 12,4 percent,” he said.

 

Xaba said savings that would be realised due to circumcision would be about $1 billion dollars (R14-billion), arising from the potential cost of care of persons with HIV, covering their tests and medication for their entire life.

 

He said government was also collaborating with communities that already had circumcision programmes by providing safer methods of circumcision without necessarily interfering with their traditional rites that went with the circumcision ceremonies.

 

“We set up camps and the Ministry provides tents for circumcisions, for review, then for a purely Tshangani area where even Ministry officials are not allowed, despite having worked with them for years. They continue doing their traditional teachings, so we only do the HIV testing, circumcising and then they do their traditional rites and we do not interfere with their rites, which is the arrangement we have with them,” he said.

 

He said the only challenge was that these groups only had circumcision ceremonies when they had bumper harvests as these were huge community gatherings that required lots of food.

 

“This year they have not yet called us so maybe they might not be able because the season was bad.”

 

 

Africa News Agency