Over 950,000 males have been circumcised since the introduction of the safe medical procedure in public clinics in Zambia, says Deputy Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Obvious Chisala.
He said effective circumcision had the potential to protect individuals against transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases with up to 60 percent prevention rate.
Mr Chisala said this during the launch of the 2015 August Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) in Lusaka yesterday.
“Since the programme’s inception in 2007, campaigns have contributed greatly to the scale up of our national VMMC programme. So far, we have circumcised over 950,000 males, most of which are attributed to campaigns months. In 2007 the VMMC prevalence rate among adults aged between 15 and 49 was 13 percent and so far this increased to 22 percent in 2013,” he said.
Mr Chisala said this August, Government planned to circumcise up to 60,000 males aged between 15 and 49 with a projected 80 percent prevention of new HIV infections in males by the end of 2015. He said studies have shown that the impact of circumcision on HIV negative male adults would prevent hundreds of new infections in the country.
“Evidence from research studies have shown that male circumcision reduces a man’s chance of contracting HIV by approximately 60 percent. Studies that have modeled the impact of VMMC in Zambia indicate that if we reach our goal of circumcising 80 percent of all male HIV negative adult males by end of 2015, we will prevent about 340,000 new HIV infections by end of 2015,” Mr Chisala said. He said circumcision was one of the effective methods of preventing HIV transmission and that Government had continued to provide support for programmes aimed at enhancing sensitisation to encourage more people to undergo the procedure.
Mr Chisala said massive campaigns have resulted in over 900,000 taking part in the programme in Zambia since 2007, due to increased public information on the advantages and benefits of circumcision for the people.
And Lusaka Provincial health officer Kennedy Malama said with the national HIV prevalence at 13.3 percent, there was need for concerted efforts in employing comprehensive strategies to encourage circumcision.
Dr Malama said various stakeholders have come on board to assist the Government in providing VMMC in Zambia which has since grown to set trends in the region.
Dr Malama commended healthcare workers in the country for the scaling-up of the programme in the various clinics and hospitals undertaking the operation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the healthcare workers in Zambia who have made the scale-up of this programme possible; without the countless clinicians, nurses and hygiene assistants working overtime and giving up their Saturdays, we could not have made it this far,” he said.