Male cir­cum­ci­sion drive in­ten­si­fies

Lesotho Times - - Health - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

AN in­ter­na­tional non-profit health or­gan­i­sa­tion, Jh­piego will in­ten­sify its vol­un­tary male med­i­cal cir­cum­ci­sion (VMMC) pro­gramme start­ing to­mor­row in Hlotse in the Leribe dis­trict.

VMMC is the sur­gi­cal re­moval of the fore­skin – the re­tractable fold of tis­sue that cov­ers the head of the pe­nis. The in­ner as­pect of the fore­skin is highly sus­cep­ti­ble to HIV in­fec­tions, mak­ing the sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure an ad­di­tional HIV pre­ven­tion strat­egy based on strong and con­sis­tent sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that VMMC re­duces the risk of sex­ual trans­mis­sion of HIV from women to men by ap­prox­i­mately 60 per­cent.

In Le­sotho, Jh­piego works closely with the Health Min­istry to of­fer free VMMC ser­vices in five dis­tricts of Maseru, Leribe, Berea, Mafeteng and Mo­hale’s Hoek.

More than 130 000 men have been cir­cum­cised since the or­gan­i­sa­tion started work­ing in Le­sotho in 2012.

Jh­piego As­sis­tant Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer Thato Li­aho yes­ter­day told a press con­fer­ence that to­mor­row, the or­gan­i­sa­tion would kick­start its in­ten­si­fied sum­mer male cir­cum­ci­sion pro­gramme in Leribe with a road­show.

“For us the up­com­ing Christ­mas hol­i­days means in­ten­si­fy­ing the sum­mer male cir­cum­ci­sion cam­paign, tar­get­ing male per­sons aged 15-29,” Ms Li­aho said.

She said the age group had been cho­sen af­ter it was re­alised that they shied away from seek­ing med­i­cal ser­vices, es­pe­cially HIV and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases test­ing.

She said this made the age group vul­ner­a­ble to HIV and other sexu- ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases in­fec­tions; adding “we are say­ing to them, there are health ser­vices which you need to ac­cess in or­der to live long.”

For her part, Jh­piego Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager Polo Motšoari said the cam­paign was aimed at spread­ing aware­ness that male cir­cum­ci­sion could still be con­ducted in sum­mer.

She said the ad­van­tages of VMMC in­cluded re­duc­ing the HIV in­fec­tion by 60 per­cent, re­duc­ing chances of pe­nile can­cer as well as re­duc­ing chances of cer­vi­cal can­cer in their fe­male part­ners.

She said the cam­paign also aimed to ad­dress myths and mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing the VMMC, in­clud­ing the belief that med­i­cal cir­cum­ci­sion could only be done in win­ter.

Ms Motšoari said VMMC could be done in sum­mer and the pa­tient could heal prop­erly as long as they fol­lowed proper care pro­ce­dures.

“To show that most peo­ple still be­lieve that VMMC can only be done in win­ter, in 2015 alone we had 26 577 un­der­go­ing VMMC and of these, 20 957 were done be­tween June and Au­gust while 5 620 were car­ried out be­tween Oc­to­ber and April,” Ms Motšoari said.

Jh­piego Le­sotho Di­rec­tor Vir­gile Kikaya also re­futed claims on so­cial me­dia that med­i­cally cir­cum­cised men were sus­cep­ti­ble to pe­nile can­cer.

“As it stands, there is no ev­i­dence what­so­ever that VMMC causes pe­nile can­cer in any way,” Dr Kikaya said, adding, “In­stead there is a strong med­i­cal ev­i­dence that VMMC re­duces pe­nile can­cer”.

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