The United States of America’s Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton, has heaped praise on local musician The Dogg (Martin Morocky), who is an ambassador of the ongoing voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programme, for taking a bold decision to get “a smart cut”.
Daughton made the remarks on Thursday during the two-day 20th HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), where hundreds of learners from various schools in Windhoek gathered.
Health Minister Dr Bernard Haufiku will be back in the theatre on September 19 to circumcise Morocky as part of the ongoing campaign. Referred to as ‘the smart cut’ for purposes of the campaign, the initiative aims at encouraging all Namibian men to get circumcised to reduce their risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
“As some of you may know, the honourable health minister, Dr Haufiku, has agreed to give The Dogg the smart cut on September 19. In case you’re wondering what that is, doctors call it voluntary medical male circumcision, or VMMC.
“Why has The Dogg agreed to it? Because the smart cut is proven to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 60 percent. As I’m sure you can agree, it’s a bold move for The Dogg – and for Dr. Haufiku, too – to raise VMMC awareness. The VMMC programme is also something the U.S. has been supporting, and I think The Dogg’s decision is a point worth emphasising during awareness week,” he noted.
The Namibian 2015 Progress Report clearly noted that Namibia has a high prevalence, high incidence, generalised and mature HIV epidemic, with the majority of new HIV infections transmitted through unprotected intercourse and co-morbidities, while opportunistic infections add to the burden.
The Dogg, as national ambassador of the Smart Cut Campaign, has been travelling throughout the country to spread the gospel of circumcision. He has been to Khomas, Zambezi and Oshana regions, giving information during live music performances and is also doing mobilisation at tertiary institutions, communities and shopping centres around the country.
At the recent show staged in Oshakati, the health minister announced that instead of blowing candles on his birthday cake on September 19, he would personally be circumcising the multi-award winning artist on Monday.
Deputy Minister of Health, Juliet Kavetuna who officially addressed the event urged men who are not circumcised to go for the exercise.
She said recent clinical trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda provide scientific evidence that men, who had been circumcised in medical facilities and experienced proper medical follow-up, reduced the risk of HIV infection.
“All hospitals in Namibia can carry out such an operation and at no cost. It’s nothing complicated. This way you can protect yourself and your partner. The HIV and AIDS epidemic is alive and is negatively impacting the Namibian society,” she said.
Kavetuna added that there are behavioural and contextual factors that drive the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Namibia, including multiple and concurrent partnerships, inter-generational sex, transactional sex, HIV-risk perceptions, low and inconsistent condom use, male circumcision, alcohol abuse, mobility and migration patterns and norms regarding sexual partnerships.
She explained that such behaviour is most common among people under the age of 30 years, saying as a result of such practices, many young people are infecting others within that generational bracket. Daughton further said the U.S.A has a longstanding commitment to help the people in Namibia lead healthy lives, particularly with respect to HIV and AIDS. “That is why the U.S. government is happy to support this year’s HIV/AIDS awareness week, because we believe, as President Hage Geingob has said, that: “no one should be left behind” in this fight.”
As there is a tangible link between cancer and HIV, NUST this year incorporated cancer awareness, as well.