The last days of school holidays had significant meaning for many coastal schoolboys, who braved the ‘smart cut’ through the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Clinic (VMMC), aimed at attracting younger males to the facility for the first time.
Around 540 schoolboys from Walvis Bay and Swakopmund had the procedure performed at the Swakopmund State Hospital on Tuesday, shortly before schools re-open.
The clinic set aside three days a week for learners as young as 12-years old, and according to VMMC Project Director Nikki Soboil, the initiative was very successful. She said they would repeat the exercise for young men over future school holidays.
Furthermore, to coincide with this period, celebrated musician and VMMC Ambassador ‘The Dogg’ performed in Mondesa and Kuisebmond as part of his nationwide promotion of male circumcision.
The clinic, which is to open seven days a week to provide services to older males, answered the demand from parents, in particular mothers, requesting circumcision for their children children, which led to the new initiative.
Soboil said she was very satisfied with the turnout and noted the support among mothers sent out a positive message.
“We would like to see more fathers and sons coming together to take advantage of this free circumcision service, which ultimately helps reduce the risk of HIV transmission in Namibia.
“It is encouraging to learn that most of the young boys made their own decision to take advantage of the voluntary circumcision service we offer, and they are setting an example to both young and old men,” she added.
The main regional VMMC clinic is based in Swakopmund, Erongo Region, which draws men from all corners of Namibia for jobs in the mining and fishing sectors.
She explained that the VMMC clinic in Swakopmund services the whole of Erongo, but there were also several outreach sites, as well as another fixed site in Kuisebmond.
They are also in the process of launching a mobile theatre where they will work with a team of eight doctors.
Male circumcision was given the thumbs up by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, during the official opening of the clinic in June last year, where he said circumcision had proved effective in the prevention of HIV/Aids.
He said it was scientifically proven the ‘smart cut’ procedure reduced a man’s chances of contracting the infection by 60 percent.
They therefore, needed to carry the message to people in every region, to motivate men to have themselves circumcised in an effort to reduce the spread of the HIV virus.
Soboil said on average they were circumcising around 30 men a day, but would like to see the figures increase.
The procedure takes an hour, with minimum down time to recover. She said it was important for men to stick to all the guidelines given by health workers to ensure proper healing after the procedure.
Whilst circumcision is not a miracle cure for aids, it greatly reduces the risk of HIV, but it is important to still use condoms and practise safe sex at all times.
The Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision is a US initiative funded through the Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).